Happy August y’all! I’m back from a brief, impromptu blogging hiatus and thought I’d borrow a topic from…(you know what’s coming next, right?)…a podcast!
This week I heard a recent episode of Laura Tremaine’s 10 Things to Tell You podcast, an interactive show where Laura presents a topic for listeners to consider and discuss, whether in our journals, with our communities on social media, or in real-life conversations with friends. The episode was called Where Are You? and in it Laura challenged listeners to think about where we are, not in physical space (I mean, I’m currently at a folding-table-turned-desk in my master bedroom, but that’s not exactly riveting content…) but where we are in our minds, on the timeline of our lives, and in relation to the people in our lives.
The timeline question struck me most, as Laura asked us to think about where we are experiencing the Ending of something, where we are walking into new Beginnings, and where we are still in the Middle. For me, it’s an incredibly timely question.
So today, I’m going to share a bit about where I am, how I’m applying our family motto to Be Where You Are, and how that’s sometimes easier said than done.
Today, specifically, marks the end of my July blogging break. It wasn’t a planned sabbatical or intentional tech detox. I actually had a post in the works for the first Friday in July, which coincided with our seventh wedding anniversary.
But as holiday weeks often go, things were off schedule, I was distracted, and the post wasn’t completed. The second week of July, my in-laws were visiting to collect Abby and take her back home with them, and the third week, Dave and I had a road-trip planned. I knew from experience that the week following vacation would be spent recovering and trying to return to some semblance of normal. So I made the last-minute decision to cut myself some slack and let the blogging, as well as most of my other social media posting, go for a month.
I think it was a good decision, as it relieved some stress for me during a busy month. It also allowed me to be present with our family, on our trip, and in the days here at home since.
But I did miss writing regularly, and I’m happy (though weirdly a little nervous) about being back at it. I’m hopeful that by allowing my brain to rest for a bit, I am ready to create some good content in the weeks to come (including that anniversary post, just a few weeks late.)
This past month brought another conclusion, the end of Dave’s career in the Army. On July 15, 2019, Dave put on his Army uniform for the last time.
It was bittersweet. On the one hand, we’ve been planning for this ending for over a year, so in some ways it felt like an accomplishment.
But, as I’ve written about before, this wasn’t an ending we sought or wanted. Dave absolutely loved his years flying Blackhawks for the Army, and there is a grief process we’ve both gone through as we’ve come to terms with the fact that his dream job is no longer an option for him.
We know God is good, and in control, and we are doing our best to be here, amidst the grief, acknowledging it without letting it overtake us, celebrating and reminiscing over all the amazing opportunities the Army afforded us, looking with expectation to whatever the future holds.
I think for most of us, the middle is the most prominent part of our lives, and the easiest to miss. It doesn’t have the pomp and circumstance of beginnings or endings, but it’s where we spend most of our time.
As for me, I’m smack dab in the middle of several things. Like, the middle of pregnancy.
I’m coming up on the 23rd week, so I’m just past the actual middle-mark as we wait and prepare for this new little one to arrive. In many ways it feels like the end of November is a long way off, but I know it will be here before I know it.
Currently I’m feeling pretty good…the nausea has passed, and my energy is fairly high. I do still want naps most days, but that could be due to the increasing difficulty I’m having with staying comfortable at night. (I keep searching for pregnancy pillows on Amazon, and before you read this, I may have already clicked “add to cart.”)
Mild nesting projects have begun. I’ve sorted all of Abby’s hand-me-downs and have them neatly organized and labeled in the closet. We bought a Roomba to help with keeping our floors clean (this is apparently a thing we do when we are expecting. We got our first one when I was pregnant with Abby.) And I have some vague plans for how I want to update Abby’s room to accommodate the addition of a second occupant.
We are also in the middle of summer. I almost included this in the section about endings, but I reminded myself, we still have several weeks to go. (And that’s just until Abby goes back to preschool. Summer weather will be with us here in North Carolina until late September or early October, if we’re lucky.)
For me, an important part of the mantra “be where you are” is to refrain from wishing away today while we wait for tomorrow. The middle is an easy place to fall into this trap.
It would be easy for me to wish away the rest of this pregnancy, focusing on the day when I’ll be able to have more than one cup of coffee, when I can sleep on my back again, or when we can meet this little person and become a family of four.
It’s also a yearly challenge for me to embrace the end of summer without pining for autumn, my favorite season. I have spent countless Septembers grumbling and chafing at the seemingly-endless hot weather and looking longingly toward my scarves and boots.
As an introverted mama, I see the light at the end of the August-tunnel, when my mornings have a bit more breathing room again. The temptation beckons to create a countdown timer.
But spending these last weeks of summer, or the next few months of pregnancy, looking ahead robs me of right now: the time we have left together as a family of three. Time one-on-one with Abby, which will become harder to find in just a few short months. A chance to make memories and show her how much she is loved.
Looking around and saying, “well, here we are in the middle!” helps me fight to be here right now. Because sometimes middles turn to endings before we are ready.
Depending on your personality type, beginnings can be exciting or daunting.
I’ll give you a hint about where I fall: as a student, I was always the one who picked up my schedule a few days early and spent time walking the halls, finding my way to all my classes before the hubbub of the first day.
Beginnings can be overwhelming to me, because I like the predictability of the familiar.
But being where I am means embracing even the sometimes-scary beginning of things.
We are at the beginning of a new endeavor as a couple: Dave and I will be teaching a Young Married’s Sunday School class starting this weekend! We are excited to be teaching together as a team, and for a chance to connect with other couples in our church. We are so thankful for this opportunity to grow in our callings as a couple and as individuals.
In all reality, though 4-years feels like a long time some days, we are also at the beginning of our parenting journey. Abby grows and learns every day, constantly posing questions and presenting challenges which we wonder if we are equipped to face.
Adding a new little one into our family will introduce sibling dynamics and new demands we haven’t yet faced as parents. We are by no means seasoned, and often that amateur status feels frightening. It’s also exciting to think of all the milestones and surprises which lay ahead of us on this journey. For all it’s work and stress, parenting brings such sweet joy and more than a few moments of hilarity. It’s truly nothing short of a wild adventure.
Finally, we are at the beginning of a new chapter of our lives. As our Army-life ends and we await the next open door, we sometimes struggle to be here in the waiting. To know and trust that God is working, even when we don’t see it or feel it.
In truth, maybe we are actually still in the middle of this waiting season, but I choose to view this time as a beginning…the beginning of a new walk by faith, the beginning of truly and fully trusting God (much, much harder to do than to type.)
The beginning of the season where we see the fulfillment of His promises.
Where ever you are today: in the excitement of a new beginning, the tedium of the middle, or the bitter-sweetness of an ending, I hope you will join me in trying to be here with all of our hearts.
Savoring the simple joys.
Acknowledging the difficult challenges.
Trusting it’s all working together for our good.