Friday, October 31, 2014

Day Thirty-One: Reality

It rained today (which made me happy), and we had a handful of trick-or-treaters stop by while I was putting the twins in bed and we were diligently exposing our children to the classic TV show, Man v. Food, during Pizza, Smoothie, and a Movie night. (Calling it SPAM never caught on unfortunately.)

It's the last day of October, the last day of daily writing, the last day of thinking purposefully about this weird in between space I'm in right now. Somehow I really think I had tricked myself into believing there would be this massive transformation and the end of October would include a glittery denouement of awesome.

There's not.

Because when you're in the between, that's where you are, until you look around one day and discover suddenly that you're not any more and haven't been for a while. It sneaks up on you like that.

I want to tie it all together tonight, but I'm so tired that I can't even remember what all I've written this month. Although I'm pretty sure I remember at least one note about being tired. And something about bees. And I think I gave you guys a tour of the house.

Basically, I'm pretty sure I covered all the important stuff.

At the end of the day, what I've been focusing on these last few weeks has been the why behind it all.

Our family goes through another move, resettling, rerooting, rebuilding, all for fifteen months, and for what? So we can be together, as God and the Air Force move us around the country. And what a blessing to be together. I'm being honest here: I really love the being together part.

Our family trucks through months of sleeplessness and screaming babies and endless bottles of infant tylenol, and for what? So we can enjoy to the fullest the wonderful gift of two unexpected babies, with or without teeth, who have made our lives richer, if more sleep deprived.

Our family rearranges our schedule to include phonics and numbers and read a-louds and a screwed up cleaning schedule, and for what? So the Little Man can stay home with Tiny and the rest of us while still exercising his brain muscles.

These changes take time. And sometimes they are painful.

Really, transition is a lot like teething. It starts hurting long before you see anything happening in the baby's mouth. First there's the drooling and then the swelling and then maybe a few spots of red on the gum and then tiny pin-prick holes where the tooth might be coming through, and then one morning you wake up and there it is. But while it's happening, the innocent bystander (usually the parent) may have absolutely no idea why suddenly their baby is acting like a complete lunatic unless they pry open the baby's mouth and look in and even then it depends on how far the tooth has gotten…but you get the point.

Even in the teething (and the transition) there are moments when life is good and beautiful, and you have people who love you and good food to keep your stomach in its happy place and rainy days for snuggling and sunny days to sit outside on the quilt in the grass, and you can remind yourself that teething doesn't last forever and that the end result will allow you to eat really wonderful things like pizza.

In the same way, I'm reminding myself that transition doesn't last forever and that the end result will allow me to live more fully because every challenge and every change presents the opportunity to draw closer to Christ.

And if there's one thing that I know it's that being close to Christ is what true life is about, not being stable or thinking I've got everything under control or even feeling like I have a life other than littles and legos and laundry.

So this, let's end here: transition is temporary. At the very least, it can only last 80-90 years. And what do we have at the end? Jesus. The never changing one. The one who never leaves us or forsakes us. The one who always is and always will be.

And we can enjoy the constancy of who He is now while we're in the midst of this, or we can find ourselves lost in these between moments and allow them to swallow us up and take us under.

On a final honest note, knowing Jesus doesn't change the reality. I'm still tired. I still don't have enough time for everything I want to accomplish during the day. I still wish there were a couple more of me to go around. My body literally aches at the end of the day. The Man has given up having conversations with me after 930 because I'm falling asleep mid-sentence when I'm the one talking. Today one of my children (who shall remain nameless) fell down the stairs. Yesterday while I was plunging the toilet, Tiny lovingly fed Bee a whole cashew. This is my reality.

But--knowing Jesus changes the why, because I remember that the reality belongs to Him. And if the reality belongs to Him then it matters. And if this in between time matters, then it's worth it. It's not a waste of time. It's not just a systematic breaking down of everything I am. It's not just something I have to get through.

It is purposeful. It has worth. It's His.

Everything else
is over here.

{Thank you so much for joining me this month. I've appreciated more than I can say your comments and feedback and well-wishes. You make writing even more of a joy than it already is.}

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day Thirty: The House Plant

This year for Mother's Day, the Little Man gave me a potted plant. I mentioned during the house tour that I was going to come back to it later. Considering that this is the second to last day of October, it can't really get much later than this.

The fact that this houseplant is still alive is a miracle. First, it had to survive my black thumb. Then, it had to survive the move here. And finally, it had to survive my black thumb. (Wait, did I remember to mention my black thumb?)

But seriously: green things start experiencing deep rooted (haha) trauma as soon as they're brought into my presence.

I really was legitimately worried that our little plant wouldn't make it through this move though. So much so that I gently suggested to Littles that we regift it to a more stable home before our move. Incidentally, the Man thought that was terrible. But Littles was so sure we could provide all the love and care our plant needed, so we tucked it in between the driver's seat and the passenger seat, and proceeded to drive halfway across the country with it.

It got knocked over a couple of times before I figured out the perfect way to wedge it in there. So yes, there was more than a little bit of dirt scattered along the floor boards, but it was hanging in there. I've never been so proud of a plant in my life.

When we moved in to the new house, I thought we were home free. I put it on the green mosaic table on the porch and patted myself on the back.

The next morning I found it on its side on the porch, two feet away from the table. Thinking some freak windstorm had sprung up during the night, I scooped the loose dirt back in and put it back on the table.

Same thing the next morning. Thinking I'd learned my lesson, I moved it to the ground. But the tragic demolition of the plant continued. One time it even made it all the way to the sidewalk.

Really, now that I think of it, these may have been escape attempts. Maybe the plant was trying to get back to Oklahoma. Or just away from me.

Anyway, having now lost several teaspoons of soil, possibly tablespoons, I finally wised up and moved it inside where it may be exposed to loud shrieking and the occasional thrown football but is at least not in peril of being blown over repeatedly.

Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. A significant portion of the roots had been knocked loose and an unsightly number of leaves were yellowing.

I thought our plant was a goner.

I kept watering it faithfully and whispering sweet words of encouragement…and preparing Littles for the eventual end.

But then I realized what the plant really needed (probably) was just some more dirt. Unfortunately, that was harder to come by than I realized. Our back yard, if you recall, consists of some tastefully strewn wood chips.

But lo and behold, what should our refined and thoughtful guests bring us when they came for dinner last week but a pot of mums! So a couple of days ago, I let our new mums share a little bit of their dirt with my tiny, yellowing houseplant. And wouldn't you know it? While some of the bottom leaves are still yellow, there's already a new bloom, and I would swear on my life that plant looks happier.

So where is my point in all of this? Because you know I don't ramble along about plant life for no good reason.

The point is that I've felt a lot like that plant these last couple of months. I've been knocked about a bit, lost some dirt here and there. My roots, and sometimes my nerves, have been exposed, left to the elements, unprotected. And maybe I just need someone to give me some dirt from a new place so that I can sink my roots back in and get some nourishment so I can bloom again.

There is something about change that shakes us about and leaves us feeling a bit bare and naked. We stretch out our roots to try to find stability again, to try to engage, because we know that rootlessness means stunted growth, but sometimes all we're making contact with is air. We need the gift of a little dirt. We need someone, somewhere, to welcome us into this new space (whether physical and metaphorical) and say, "Here. Grow. Bloom. Set down roots and be welcome here."

Thank you to those of you who are sharing a bit of dirt with me, whether that is in the form of a shared meal or a pot of flowers or the simplicity of a conversation. Thank you. And to those of you looking on as some plant near you tries to put out tenuous roots, give them a little bit of soil--and just see the beauty that unfolds.

My leaves may still be a bit yellow at the bottom, but there are new blooms opening.

Find the rest here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day Twenty-Nine: Joy Stabilizes

Okay. Confession time: I may be out of things to write about.

No, clarification, I have one more bang up blog post in my bag that I'm saving for tomorrow and then a sum up post for the 31st, but today? nada. zip. nothing.

And honestly, I'd really just rather go hang out with the Man tonight.

But I just want to say this (you knew it was too good to be true: Marian without anything to say, haha, funny joke):

I had a friend over this afternoon who came accompanied by her three beautiful children. And it was crazy and loud and chaotic and there were half a dozen paper airplanes flying down the stairwell at one time and peanut butter cookie crumbs all over the table--and I loved it.

But you know what I loved the most? When my Little social bug snuggled up to me after they left and told me how much fun he'd had with them.

That made my heart happy.

The happiness reminded me that settling in is about baby steps, little moments that define a new life. Today was one more root into the ground. The root was not necessarily about having people over but about the joy of connection that Littles expressed.

Joy stabilizes. And that is pure grace.

More long winded stuff here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day Twenty-Eight: Bee Stings, Hummingbirds, and Foot-in-Mouth Disease

There was one thing I didn't tell you about the day I got attacked by the army of bees: that playground was where I saw my first California hummingbird, the week we moved in.

You should know that I absolutely love hummingbirds. Next to kingfishers, they could be my favourite birds in the whole world. They remind me that there is breath-taking beauty in the small things. They remind me to keep my eyes open.

I've looked for hummingbirds at that playground every single time we've gone back since that first sighting. But now, I admit, I don't really want to go back.

There's just something about being stung repeatedly by adorably fuzzy yet vicious bees.

But today I was thinking about stopping by, mostly because it's the closest one to the house but also partially because I have a serious hummingbird addiction. I had pretty much decided against going (because BEES and STINGING) when I realized that the question was not whether or not I was going to get stung again but whether or not it would be worth it to get stung again should I manage to see another hummingbird.

I decided that the risk was worth it, so we went.

And I got stung another dozen times.


That didn't happen. There was not a bee in sight.

But my bravery was rewarded by three hummingbird sightings!

Also kidding.

That didn't happen either.

No pictures of bees (except this one)
or hummingbirds
but you can see here that my mouth IS large
enough to fit at least one of my oversized feet.

We went. The kids played. I kept an eye out for the birds and the bees (ahem!) and then, when we were about to leave the playground without anything exciting happening, another mom and kid dropped in and struck up a conversation with me, and I proceeded to royally put my foot in my mouth. Twice.

I walked home kicking myself and blaming the playground for being cursed.

But then I realized just how appropriate that moment was. See, here's the thing about doing something new (moving, starting a new job, starting a new relationship, pretty much any new season in life): with it comes risk.

You can be subjected to pain (bee stings, hello!). You can make a fool of yourself (multiple times, in my case). Or you can experience the joy of discovering incredible beauty (the hummingbird, of course).

The thing is: none of those will happen if you don't get off your rear and go to the playground.

So here's the question I'm asking you: is it worth it? Is the goal of discovery and beauty and life worth the risk of potential pain and humiliation?

I'd say yes. What would you say?

Incidentally, while I didn't see a hummingbird at the playground today, I did see one on my way there. Read into that what you will.

Make sure you've read
the rest of the series.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day Twenty-Seven: Choose Your Own Adventure

There are days when you get to choose your own adventure. Days when exploring a new place or trying a new food is a viable option. Days when who knows what exciting thing could be just around the corner!

Month old beach pictures

And then there are days when every option leads to a shortened nap or a kitchen piled high with dishes or a tantrum to be dealt with. And no matter which chapter you turn to, it's nothing more than a slog.

Caught Bruiser mid deep thought.

You know your life wasn't meant to be the type of book that puts everyone else to sleep (including yourself--if only nap time applied to mommies), but some days it seems like that. Some days after all the excitement has worn down, you're left with the day to day nitty gritty, but this time, without the system of support you left behind. And it's tiring.

They were digging a moat. I think.

Remind yourself, dear heart, that this is not the end. That this is barely a paragraph, maybe even just a couple of sentences, in your rollicking adventure novel. And while things may look bleak for the heroine right now, the Author is developing His characters.

Bee tried to eat both my sandal and the sand that day.

Because really, without character development, the adventure story is all flash and no bang.

The boys' first hike. Also about a month ago.
Bee was strapped to the Man who was playing photographer.

Hang in there. Keep making the brave choices: texting new friends, teaching new subjects, cooking new dishes that inevitably take twice as long as the recipe says.

Now this picture was from today!
The Little Man's First Day of the Second Week of Pre-K Picture!

Then at the end of the day, when your husband says, "Go blog while I clean up the kitchen--and don't you dare touch a single thing more on that table!", leave the plates, go sit down on the couch, and remind yourself of what you know is true.

And one more, just for kicks and giggles:
How's that for an acronym?

The last chapter has not been written. The last adventure has not been had. This is just the part where the audience really learns who you are and what you're made of.

And then go to bed early.

Read the rest of the month here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day Twenty-Six: Defense Mechanisms

One of the things I butt up against every time we move is my own use of defense mechanisms. When I'm facing something challenging and potentially painful, I automatically do what I can to protect myself. Unfortunately, as is often the case, while a defense mechanism may protect me from pain, it also keeps me from experiencing true joy.

Here are some examples:

  • I dread the goodbye, so I pull back from friends before we leave, thinking that will lessen the sting. It doesn't. I just miss out on making good memories before we leave.
  • I don't want to think about moving, so I put off the packing until the last moment. This back fires because then I'm stressed out towards the end trying to get everything taken care of instead of able to enjoy the last few days before we leave.
  • Instead of allowing myself to focus on all the things I'm going to miss, I obsessively research our new home. It's amazing how many book stores and coffee shops I can discover when I'm still hundreds of miles away.
I'm learning, though, that I use defense mechanisms to protect myself in other times of change too. 
  • Last week was Little's first week of pre-K. I didn't take a first day of school picture. Part of it was that I genuinely forgot. But another part of it was that, if I failed at teaching him, I didn't want photographic evidence that I ever tried.
  • I feel overwhelmed or stressed out by all that life's throwing at me and instead of facing those feelings and that reality, I distract myself with mindless internet surfing, whatever novel I picked up last, or a square (or slab) of dark chocolate.
  • I've been frustrated by my lack of exercise these last few weeks due to frequent up and down nights with the twins, and I've found myself making frequent, pointed jokes about it to the Man (who keeps telling me to quit). Instead of cutting myself slack in this season of teething and schedule change, I'm making a pre-emptive strike: running myself down before anyone else can comment on my lack of an exercise routine.
When I started this post, I was going to be short and to the point and say, "Defense mechanisms are dumb! Stop with the defense mechanisms!" But more eloquently, of course. In retrospect, however, I'm not sure I agree with 8 hours ago Marian (yes, this post has been written off and on over the course of the last 8 hours--judge not, lest ye be judged).

Yes, sometimes our use of defense mechanisms robs us from experiencing true life. If we're using them to block the oncoming pain, we're also, inevitably, going to block the joy we could've experienced. 

However, sometimes we can use defense mechanisms as a way to catch our breath when life is getting overwhelming. And that's where we may have a bit more wiggle room. We need that bit of grace in our lives, so long as that's what it really is "a bit of grace" and not a way to numb or avoid.

We'll leave it at that, for tonight. And we can pray together that we may be wise when we see ourselves putting on armor or dropping down into a defensive pose or even just burrowing in to wait out the storm, that we would know when those defense mechanisms need to be employed and when they need to be left by the side of the road. We can pray together that we would be able to know ourselves and understand the why behind our actions. We can pray that instead of choosing safety and painlessness, we would choose true life and abundant joy.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day Twenty-Five: Orang Asing

Before we get started, I just want to show you this picture of our jack-o-lantern because that's how I felt yesterday. I wanted to include that picture with yesterday's post but by the time I got around to blogging, it was pitch black outside. Today, I was smart and got out there before dinner. Even though, it's nine o'clock and I'm just now finishing up my post. Again.

It's actually molding.

Anyway, moving on, haha, you know the hard thing about for real moving? It always reminds me of something that I already know: I don't fit here, and I never have.

Incidentally, this is also the great thing about moving (even if it's sometimes a hard pill to swallow).

But let me back up a bit. I think we need some context for this.

Story One. A few days ago, the kids and I stopped at the neighborhood mailbox to pick up our mail. As I was unlocking our box, one of our neighbors (whom I haven't met) walked by, pushing a stroller. I smiled cheerily and quickly apologized for blocking her way with our behemoth of a stroller and the accompanying crowd of biker boys, and immediately maneuvered the twins out of the way. She gave me a slight grimace that could have been a smile (benefit of the doubt) and walked past us briskly. I briefly considered moving (again) so that I would never have to see her again or possibly inconvenience her in any way.

Tiny's otherness manifests itself
in his awesome bike riding skills.

Story Two. I grew up in Indonesia, where the people are adorably brown and tiny. I love it there. But I am neither brown nor tiny, though sometimes adorable. Where most of the people cleared somewhere around five feet, I hovered just south of six. Where black hair and brown skin was the norm, I was strikingly blonde and white enough to be mistaken for Lot's wife after she was turned into a pillar of salt. There was one specific instance when I came home during college and my mom and I went out to the village to visit some friends of hers who had never met me. The entire visit the conversation revolved around how much I looked like Barbie. It was awkward.

Lest you think I exaggerate.

Now that we have context, let's get back to where we were: the never fitting. I didn't fit in Indonesia. And yet, I also don't fit here. There are still American norms that I'm learning though I've lived here for 10 years now. I ask a lot of questions. That's healthy, right?

Last night, I asked our guests if it was a normal American tradition to give guests a tour of the house. My mom always did it and I never knew if it was just that our guests wanted to see our crazy Indo-American mash up home and she was assuaging their curiosity or if it was a legitimate American thing to do.

But it's a good thing knowing that I don't necessarily fit in one place or another.

Pajamas and hats indoors.
The twins rock their differences.

I realize that sounds odd, but there are a few reasons that I say that.

One, it makes me more sensitive towards and aware of those others who also may not fit. I always try to remind myself when I'm in social situations where I feel uncomfortable that someone else is probably feeling the same way, so I just need to look for them and be a friend to them.

Two, it reminds me that I'm supposed to be different, and I'm not really supposed to fit.

A fellow Indonesia lover explained it to me this way once. The Indonesian phrase for "foreigner" is "orang asing", but the interesting thing about the word "asing" ("orang" means "person") is that its roots tie to the words "separate" or "set apart". Essentially, the foreigner is set apart from the locals by their differences.

My friend then tied the phrase "set apart" to our word "holy", which means to be set apart for God. I thought this was a fascinating idea. The thought that my discomfort can remind me that I've been set apart for God's purposes never ceases to encourage me.

Who wants to be normal?

So I've been trying to remind myself of these things as I've occasionally felt like a square peg in a round hole.

If I'm feeling like a misfit, someone else might be too, and wouldn't it be more fun to be misfits together?

And if I'm feeling like a foreigner, maybe it's because I am. I've been set apart for God and that means allowing my otherness to shine through for his joy.

More about moving!
And other things...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day Twenty-Four: The Straw and the Camel's Back

There will come a day, in the midst of your unsettling and resettling and general change, when there will be a straw that will break the proverbial camel's back.

There will come a day when, once said straw has done its breaking, even doing "school" outside in the misting drizzle (sometimes fondly referred to as "mizzle") will not put a smile on your face.

A day when slight acquaintances will cheerily tell you that you look tired.

A day when everything and everyone irritates you, especially the people you love the most.

Most of the time, the straw will be something relatively small. Just one more change in a whole litany of changes, but you will find that you just. can't. handle. any. more.

In my case, the change was my 9 month old twins deciding that one nap was more their style than two.


Not that big of a deal.

Maybe a change for the better.

But today: the straw that broke the back of my momentous race towards stability and grounded-ness.

I admitted defeat. I felt worn and exhausted and beaten down, and everyone could see it.

Then we had guests for dinner, and they played with our children and told stories that mattered and listened to our hearts and shared laughter and a happy serving of non-Whole30 approved apple crisp--and suddenly, I felt like I could face tomorrow and all my many, many children again.

I don't know what the straw will be that will break your camel's back. And I don't know what your spiritual equivalent of soul-cheering dinner guests is either. But I know this:

Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Keep reading.
All the cool kids are doing it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day Twenty-Three: Sibling Support

I've spent most of today (off and on) texting with my sisters. Technically, WhatsApping with Amanda, but you get the point. They are awesome, and I like them. The truth is that growing up the way we did, we learned early on that the only constants in our lives were each other, and we made our sisterhood count.

I'm the pudgy one up front.

Sure, there were bumps in the road. But, you know, we never fought. We never engaged in petty rivalry. We never stole each other's books and then wrote our names in them and pretended they were ours. We always treated each other with the upmost love and respect.

Oh wait... Never mind.

This picture says a lot about our personalities.

But the thing was, we had each other's back. I knew if I ever needed them, they'd be there for me, and vice versa. They were my best friends, still are, even when only we see each other once a year. Even when there are other friends who maybe understand our current seasons of life better (pastor's wives who relate to Joanna or military spouses who connect with me or professional nomads who understand Amanda). Even when we forget to respond to emails promptly or cop out on sending birthday packages to deepest, darkest Africa.

We're it for each other.

I think this was Joanna's "bachelorette" party.
Her request was a sister's date, plus Mom.

So when I talk to the boys (and Bee) about the importance of sibling friendships, I know what I'm talking about.

When I tell them that our family has to be a team, I understand what that really means.

When I encourage the closeness of their relationships, it's because I know they're going to need that too.

I know that Littles, Tiny, Bruiser, and Bee are going to be it for each other.

Best Maid and Matron of Honour ever. 

And then I know that years from now, they're going to learn the same lesson I had to: that no matter how close you are with your siblings, no matter how wonderful they are, there will come a season when they will be far away and you're going to have to find support elsewhere, which is where Jesus comes in.

Jo flew up to see me the first weekend after Josh deployed.
Amanda picked her up at the airport
and they surprised me.
I cried.
It was the last week Joanna was allowed to fly.

Seasons of change strip everything away, even sometimes the ones who are it for us. That's why those transition periods are so hard. They would be hard anyway, because change is tough (I'm pretty sure we've covered that), but it's made even more challenging by the fact that our support system typically gets destabilized.

So when you find those people who weather the storm of the in between with you, hold on to them. Let them be Christ for you. Let them lead you to Christ in the between, since He's the only one who will truly never leave you or forsake you.

And those people may not always be your sisters. For me it is, plus the Man and a couple other incredible friends, but the important thing is that they are people who become constants in your life.

The day I got home from the hospital with Littles.
That's my pudgy nephew Amanda's holding.
And look how legitimately little Little is!

That way, when you're hours away from them, and your husband deploys for the first time while you're pregnant with your first kid, you have surprise visitors show up in the form of an even-more-pregnant-than-you oldest sister and a must-have-pizza-now middle sister.

That way, when you're going through your second deployment and get put on twin-nant bed rest, you have one sister fly in from Africa to give you an extra pair of hands and another sister to sacrifice time with Mom so that you don't go into labour mommy-less.

That way, when you're in a new place and still getting your feet under you, you can spend all morning WhatsApping one sister and all evening texting the other.

Find those people who are it for you. And thank God for them every day. They are His gift to you.

Find the rest here!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day Twenty-Two: Tired

The second bathroom didn't get cleaned today. All the cleaning supplies are sitting on the sink waiting for me, and there's an empty spot on my To Do list that is just begging for a check mark. This would bother me except I'm too tired to drag myself off the couch and go back upstairs to clean.

That, and I have the hiccups, and hiccups are the worst.

While we're confessing things, I made it one day on the Whole30. In our home, it shall now be referred to as Marian's Whole1. I got out of bed this morning after being up a good portion of the night with Bruiser and just about collapsed on the floor. I was shaking uncontrollably and literally broke out in a cold sweat as I tried to get down the stairs for some serious carbs. Honestly, I think my body was being a bit of a drama queen, but evidently nursing twins and doing the Whole30 do not a good combination make.

There is a point to this. Hang in there.

Really, you should be able to guess the point. Because if yesterday I talked about how change is painful, the obvious follow up is this: change is TIRING.

Being in a season of transition will plain wear you out.

Let's stay on the honest train, having twins will leave you with more than a few sleepless nights. Then moving and getting settled: also exhausting. Making new friends? Emotionally wearing. Then throw in a 31 day writing challenge, revamping our eating program, and starting Littles in pre-K (the faux-homeschool version--faux-school?) and I have about twenty minutes of spare time a day during which time I'm trying to squeeze in a shower because no one else in the family wants to live with un-showered me.

Today I showered while bleaching the bathtub simultaneously (multitasking may or may not be my middle name). This should buy me an extra five minutes later in the evening.

So. Yes. Tiring. And let me drive home the point: transition is taxing even without twins etc. Starting something new (or ending something old) is just plain tiring.

Case in point, as a foot loose and fancy free junior in college, I did a semester of study abroad in England. Keep in mind: I'd lived overseas before. I'd visited England before. I didn't have to learn a new language. I had no kids or significant other to drag along (neither did I have a lot of possessions to weigh me down. But I'm pretty sure that I took a nap every single day for the first month I was there (unless I was traveling, which doesn't count).

You know what's great, though, about being tired from transition?

It's okay! And it's totally normal! So you're not weird at all if you start a napping habit. At least, that's what I tell myself.

What I'm saying is, when we're in seasons of change, why don't we cut ourselves some slack?

Understand that it's tiring, and if right now is a really bad time to subsist on fruits, vegetables, and protein, eat a carb or two and forgive yourself the sugar you put in your coffee. Eat as healthy as you can and leave it at that.

Understand that it's wearing, and if you need to take a quick nap, let the kids build an epic train track and go lie down for a few minutes. They should all still be alive and in one piece when you get back.

Understand that it's just plain exhausting, and leave the second bathroom for tomorrow. That ring in the tub isn't going anywhere.

Trust me, there are times to hold yourself to a rigidly high standard and then there are times of stressful, exhausting change. Don't get the two mixed up.

So cheery and the sun wasn't even up yet.
And I hadn't even had my coffee.
There should be laws against that.

One of my favourite Bible stories is in 1 Kings 19. Elijah is running from Jezebel who has just killed off the prophets of God and is leveling death threats against Elijah. He escapes into the desert and collapses, telling God that he's ready to die now, and then falls asleep. God sends an angel with some food who wakes him up after a little while, delivers the food, and lets Elijah fall back to sleep. After some time, the angel comes back with more food, Elijah eats, and then walks for 40 days and 40 nights before falling asleep again, this time in a cave. When he wakes up, he has the famous encounter with God where God isn't in the wind or the earthquake or the fire but in the gentle whisper.

You know what I really love about that story, aside from the fact that Elijah doesn't do things by halves? God knew Elijah was dead tired, and He fed him and let him sleep.

God knows we are tired, and He is inviting us to rest.

Yes, there is so much on your plate. Trust me, I get that. The floor needs to be swept and the laundry needs to be put away and now the kids are awake and your hair desperately needs to be washed and you can't remember the last time you cut your fingernails (they're starting to look like your own personal set of cooking knives) and dinner needs to get started and someone just scraped their knee and now it's time to go meet a new friend and somehow pull it together so that maybe they'll like us…and it never stops.

God knows we are tired. He knows. And He's inviting us to eat some bread baked over coals (see, Whole30? God approves of carbs!) and drink some cold water and get. some. sleep.

The season you are in right now is tiring. That's its nature. Give yourself some grace, a slice of bread, and a nap. It's just a season. It doesn't last forever.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day Twenty-One: Bee Stings

I got stung by a bee today. No, not this one:

And actually it was several bees stinging me, not just one. I've never been stung by a bee before, so it was an exciting first time experience. Unfortunately, in this case, I mean "exciting" in the negative sense, not the positive. But, silver lining: none of the kids got stung.

I was stung by the aforementioned evil bees because, I assume, the kids and I ate oranges at lunch and I didn't wash my hands afterwards. All that lingering orange juice must have been too much for those sucky stingers to resist.

I also ate this salad at lunch because I'm morally supporting the Man by doing the whole30:

That's not an important part of the story, though. Back to the important part of the story, you should know that I was only at the bee-infested playground because I was meeting up with a neighbor because this building relationships thing is evidently super important.

Okay, now that you have that long and incredibly exciting (this time in the positive sense, not the negative) backstory, I'll make my succinct and extremely obvious point.

When we enter into seasons of change in our life (whether by choice or by chance), there will be pain--most if it will be worse than bee stings--because it is impossible to go through the between without some form of discomfort.

You don't move from one place to another without a few broken plates (or in my case, a broken wreath). You don't start a new job without the discomfort of new relationships and that sinking feeling that you're never going to figure out your new duties. You don't revamp your workout without sore muscles or start a new eating plan without a sugar crash or grumbling belly (Whole30 may break me--where are my carbs, people?!). You don't start a marriage or a family without some relational bumps in the road.

Change is painful.

It's putting yourself out there, risking everything, with the hope that once you get through that season of between, things will be better on the other side. 

Will they be? Who knows. We hope so. 

Regardless, you will be. You will be stronger, wiser, gentler because of the challenges you've faced and the pain you've endured.

And who knows, maybe those bee stings will help you be a little more sympathetic down the line when someone else gets stung.

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