Life in the Middle

Fall is slipping through our fingers as October, in all her orange and golden glory, is coming to an end. I watch the seasons pass in the field across from our house. A hill of evergreens is met at the bottom by maples, birch, and oak—each presently showing off in orange, red, or yellow with just a few green leaves left here and there.

Each morning, I slip downstairs early and open the dinning room curtains. I sit at the table with espresso and my Bible and watch the fog lift in feathery strings of magic up out of the lowlands before mingling in wispy bands with all those colorful trees.

I’m having trouble comprehending how it can almost be November, how so soon we’ll be grabbing coats and boots before stepping outside in what right now is absolutely perfect weather.

Having a baby warps time a little bit, I think. The sleepless nights and relentless days bleed one into another and for a girl who loves her day planner, I’ve been surprised at how often I’ve had to ask what day it is or stop and think before I know for sure what month we’re in. Time both flies and trudges on achingly slow. Somehow, my baby is three months old and I’m both happy at watching her grow and heartbroken by the same.

20170926_213610.gifTime is a trickster, making us feel we’ve got all of it we need and might even just be stuck in the same place forever yet all the while slipping through our fingers and only being realized in the fallen leaves at our feet after months have gone by.

Darren and I sat talking the other night, a rare feat these days. Our conversation centered around the season of life we’re in, where so much seems out of reach and down the road. We are very much in the middle.

In the middle of sleepless nights and long days with little ones who need us endlessly. And though our children absolutely fill our hearts to overflowing, my gosh, I could use a nap too.

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IMG_20171007_135249_637.jpgWe’re in the middle of jobs and business plans that are neither just beginning nor anywhere near done. We’re past the initial excitement and miles from the finish line.

We’re in the middle of our marriage—being neither newlyweds nor all that far down the road of our relationship at nine yearsIMG_20170916_165423_400.jpgIn the middle (though hopefully closer to the end) of remodeling our house with a zillion big and little projects still needing to be done.

We’re working and planning and moving forward day by day by day. But the years and miles stretch out before us and it’s easy to get lost and discouraged here in the middle. I find myself wanting to start a new venture or take a big trip—just to be at the beginning of something exciting again instead of stuck halfway through all the work that eventually brings those exciting beginnings to a fruitful end. IMG_20171022_221723_349.jpgGod is teaching me a lot about my own character right now, showing me the areas in need of refinement. When I’m stuck with the hard work of doing something I began, will I have the patience, discipline, and contentment to keep plugging away day after day? Or will I quit because I’m bored and tired and it’s really, really hard here in the middle where the dust likes to settle and Satan likes to whisper so loudly in our ears about what could be or could have been if I’d just stopping wasting my time on the same old drudgery?

Fortunately, God whispers too. He whispers to my heart through his word and his people that there is a harvest to be gathered at the end of this journey if I just keep going, if I just keeping doing the same hard task over and over again. You don’t stay happily married for fifty years by walking away when the excitement grows thin. You don’t successfully raise children by giving up on lovingly disciplining and instructing them when you’re only half-way there. You have to keep going. You have to keep working all the way to the end to reap the harvest you sowed so many years ago.  IMG_20170919_132033_449.jpgSo I’m learning to endure. To keep getting up early each morning with hope that this day, so very much like the day before with all the same work needing to be done, will build slowly but faithfully into something worth having. My marriage is worth working for, as are my children, my home, and our ambitions and endeavors—all these things are worth the slow, faithful work of beginning again each day with the belief that what I do counts and will be blessed by the Lord if I stay faithful to the very end.

I hope you will be encouraged to believe and live the same. Let’s not give up in the hardness of the middle.

 

 

 

A Selfless Man in a Selfish World

IMG_20170814_061957_246I’ll never forget the night we met, the way we fell into conversation seamlessly and became friends almost instantly. There was hardly a moment from that first meeting when it didn’t feel right having you at my side. It’s surprising then, how long it took me to decide for sure that I really loved you, that I really wanted to marry you. Looking back though, I’m glad I took my time. Not because you’ve disappointed, but because we were so, so young and because I realize better now than I ever could have then just how significant that choice of life partner really is. IMG_20170814_062137_610We’ve been married for nine years and together for twelve. I hear those numbers and think I must have done the math wrong—how are we old enough to have been together for twelve years? But then I look at the life we’ve lived in those years and it hardly seems time enough to contain it all. Moving across the country, a condo we could barely afford to heat, a tiny downtown apartment, our first house, and our ridiculous farmhouse remodel. We’ve traveled, made two babies, worked various jobs, and started a business of our own. In all of it, I’ve learned something significant about you, about the man you are and what a lucky girl I am to have you at my side. IMG_20170814_061844_794I’ve learned in a loud world preaching self-promotion and a me-first mentality, a man who is humble, who is self-sacrificing, who sets his own wants aside to better serve his family—that is a rare find, you are a rare find. If I had understood just how uncommon your character is when I was 19 and toying with who to marry, I would have made my decision much faster.IMG_20170815_074139_745You have always loved me well but never did I realize how well until we had children. These years with little little ones are intense. We don’t sleep through the night. Someone always needs us and the margin of time left for each other or anything else can be thin. But in a time when I’ve seen many men step away from the intensity of home and family, I’ve seen you step in and stand up. IMG_20170721_215341_888You work a high-stress job all day followed by a long commute each night. But still you walk through our door ready for the next job—the kids and house and wife still needing you, still wanting what’s left of your time and attention. You get on the floor and play with our son, sit and give a bottle to our daughter, show up with ice coffee and a warm hug for me because you remember not only yourself and your own hard day but think of me and what my day might have been like as well. You mow the yard with our son on your shoulders and help wrangle two children on different schedules into bed. You give from the moment you get up to work and provide for us until the moment you hit the bed again at night.IMG_20170721_215210_339We are old enough now to see the marriages of friends and family crumble. It stings, watching people you love fall out of love with each other. I realize when a marriage or family falls apart, there is likely some level of fault on both sides. But I’ve seen too that many of the marriages I’ve watched disintegrate have done so because a man who took on a wife and family and all that home life requires decided one day (or many days over and over) that he didn’t want that life after all. It’s not that he didn’t love his wife and kids, he simply loved himself more. So he left.

But you have stayed. You have been humble. You have been selfless. You have listened and served and worked on behalf of others when your time and talent could have easily been used to promote self or to earn more money or to have more hobbies and things. You could have bought that boat and spent your days on the lake like you’ve so often talked about—but you’ve chosen our family first instead a million times over. There’s nothing in the world wrong with a boat, but a man who can discern where his time, energy, and money are most needed and who is selfless enough to live accordingly is a rare find indeed. IMG_20170707_211648_100How incredibly humbled and thankful I am that you are mine. I hope I love and serve you half as well as you love and serve us ❤

Because Love

I’m sitting at my desk enjoying the sunshine after several days of snow and seemingly endless winter gray. My view out the window–icicles and snow mounded up in heaps on the roof.

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I live here because of Darren–that’s the truth. I love sunshine, and bare feet, and warm weather. I know you’re not supposed to hate stuff but you guys, I hate winter. So why do I live in a place that’s winter for six months out of the year? Because of a boy.

Darren is a New Englander inside and out and I’m pretty sure the one thing I will never persuade him to do is move away from the motherland. He’s fairly certain he’s already living in a foreign country having left the walls of Maine–so you see what I’m working with.

So if Darren’s in New England, I’m in New England. I love him and he’s worth it even for the cold–which is saying something significant and profound, trust me.

So you heard the Pats won the super bowl, right? Right. Darren wanted you to know. So let me you tell you this fine Valentines week just exactly what true love looks like, okay?

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This is at the Pats victory parade in Boston. It was sleeting and snowing AND raining because, hello, New England, remember? That is me with my eye makeup washing off in said weather. And you can see in the background how totally delighted Roman was to be there. Darren is smiling. Of course he’s smiling.

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When you need an umbrella because it’s raining but you also have to keep shaking the snow off your umbrella so it won’t collapse…just no. Also, I’m pregnant so I have rights, people 😉

After my legs were numb and I had sung my baby asleep under an umbrella in a backpack carrier surrounded by a mob of loud, intoxicated Pats fans–Darren says, “Wow, we were 15 feet from Tom Brady’s face–that was so worth it!” And herein is love–I did not punch him in the face, ya’ll, not even once.

I walked back to the train in the apocalypse of New England weather and rode the train…stop…this is the train —->

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Sooooo….many….drunk…Pats fans….in one place 8]

And I walked back to my car because the parking lot at the train station was overflowing and I didn’t get a divorce…I didn’t even start the proceedings. Happy Valentines day, you guys, this is what true love looks like in New England ❤ ❤ ❤

Reconnect

There are fun, easy seasons of marriage and there are times that frustrate and wear you down. I don’t talk about my marriage much here because my closest relationship isn’t something I want on display or up for discussion. I will say though that we’ve had some tiring years full of short nights and long days packed beyond every bit of margin. Don’t ever try to cram like ten years of life into one, okay? Okay.

But after all of that, I have to say how good and how sweet the last nine months have been getting to reconnect with the man I loved all along but didn’t get to see much there for a while.

He’s a total gem this one and I love him.

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The last couple of years taught me how to fight for and hold onto what I want. The last nine months taught us how to slow down and see each other again. And that has been such a gift.

I’m old enough now to see some of my friends’ marriages crumbling –and that stings. We were all in love once and excited about the people we married when we said “I do” five or ten or fifteen years ago. But a lot can change in ten years; a lot can change in one.

I used to think Darren and I would always feel the same way about each other as we did when we met and married–and I hope we do. But I’ve learned that loving someone once doesn’t mean it will always be easy to love each other faithfully for a lifetime. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. And when we’re thrown against the rocks in life our spouse is often the one who bears the brunt of it privately.

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How thankful I am for a good and loving man to walk through life with. He is my best friend and the one person I most want to be with. I no longer take that for granted or assume our relationship will always be this way. I know how hard we sometimes have to fight for the things we most want but fail to see.

If you’re in a relationship then make, take, and create the time you need for each other. It’s very difficult to build a life together when you’re always apart, physically or mentally. Marriage isn’t something we get to coast through or take in like a bystander. We either build up or tear down our marriages every single day. Make time for the people who mean the most and keep on building each other up every single day with your time, your actions, and your words ❤ ❤

Look Up

We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, Darren and I. We sat trying to decide how to celebrate. All either of us wanted was to get away for a few days—away from work, and house remodeling, and life’s routine. We talked about Quebec City or Acadia or Niagara Falls. And we talked about fresh air, and crisp river water, and camp fires beneath the stars. And that’s when we decided camping would be the very best celebration this year. So we packed, and goodness, I’m amazed how much stuff it takes for us Americans to sleep on the ground properly. This was Roman’s first time camping in a tent and it takes as much stuff for one baby as it does for 8 adults I think. You should have seen our car, loaded down with tent, and pack n play, and bike rack, and a million other things to help nature out with our high maintenance ways. And then we were off, up to Vermont, to the woods and river and biking trails—up away from work and routine and all that wears us down these days. The sky was playing games and just starting to spit rain when we arrived. We moved fast, taunting nature back, and got our tent up just before the heavy rain came. We stay huddled together in our tent that evening watching Roman run from one end of the small space to the other. We made sandwiches for dinner and went to bed as soon as it was dark, listening to the sound of the rain beating against our little shelter all night long like a song. setup DSC_0468 We woke to a cool, foggy morning. We and everything else felt damp but how good it was to wake up with the sun and our baby boy snuggled between us on the floor. A crackling campfire was built and soon red potatoes and kale were cooking for breakfast. DSC_0330 I like the pace of nature and our pace in nature when we work with instead of against the morning light, and dew, and cool air wrapping around us before the heat of the day comes and pushes us back inside. So we took our time that morning, tasting our breakfast not just eating it. We took sauntering walks and breezy bike rides and looked at each other, not past to the next item of business. DSC_0763bikecarrierDSC_0815 DSC_0817 We filled our hearts, and lungs, and minds with all the good thing of nature and quiet time together. We held hands and held our son and snuggled close together around campfires at night. DSC_0436 One night, our last night, I walked back to our tent alone in the dark. I thought about the sweet days we had enjoyed and was sad to see them ending. I tried to soak up everything around me one last time–the smell of the woods, sound of the river, feel of the night air wrapping around me—and the stars, I thought—don’t forget to look up at the stars one last time for they look nothing like this back home with all the other lights hiding them. So I looked up at the night sky and all the millions and billions of tiny light freckles poking through from heaven to earth. How enchanting the night sky is and how mysterious. When I got back to the tent, Darren traded watching Roman with me and started to walk the dark path himself. I told him, “Don’t forget to look up” —and off he went with eyes to the sky. I watched him walk away and heard those words echo back to me in my head— “Don’t forget to look up.” momandrome DSC_0417 Don’t forget to look up. I have thought about that phrase many times over the last two weeks since camping. I’ve thought about it when the waves of life have washed our feet out from under us and brought us humbly to our knees. I’ve thought about those words when I’ve grown overwhelmed or discouraged and can’t find my way. Don’t forget to look up—not just to the stars, but to the God who made the stars. Look up to the God whose light shines through to us, not just in a million freckled bits of light but in our hearts and lives every day. Look up to the God who is present and in control and loves us even when we think perhaps he has forgotten. Don’t forget to look up—first, always, to the God who is there in every bit of light in the world, for he and he alone is The Light of the world. Look up.

The Perfect Date

Here we are, about to make the leap from two to three—from you and me to mom and dad. We’re soaking up the time we have left together before life is forever changed. Last night I asked you what your idea of a perfect date would be—you talked about the ocean and the water, about the beach and boats—and if you could really truly do anything…a few days away in the Caribbean. You asked me the same—what the perfect date would be. I talked about camping under the stars, sitting by the fire at night, biking, hiking, and tubing—that would be the perfect date for me.

We can’t go far from home right now—not with this baby ready to come whenever he pleases. So there will be no Caribbean vacations or nights in a tent under the stars—not right now at least.

But today we found a way to spend time together—outside, on the water…combining what bits and pieces we could of our ideal date ideas. We rented a canoe and took off together down the river—soaking up the sun and the breeze and the stillness of the water—and more than anything, the time together away from everything else.

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Water Panorama

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Ice cream and lemonade from the corner store. Burgers and fries from our favorite burger stand. And homemade strawberry limeades when we were sunburnt and ready to call it a day—I would call it a perfect day, a perfect date, and a perfect day with you.

Kiss Monkey B&WIn a few days we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary—just two days before our baby is due. Thank you darling, for the best six years of my life. It won’t always be just me and you but you—you will always be my favorite.

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Love Fest

I think we all just need to stop and talk a minute about how good this guy looks in a tool belt…I mean seriously, it’s just ridiculous.

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Also, he’s building a house for me after he’s already worked a regular job all day so I just want to say how much I really, really love him and appreciate all his hard work.

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We found a heart in the wall at the house and now our initials will be written in the walls for as long as they stand. Aww.

Are you completely grossed out by the love fest yet? Sorry. I’m feeling sentimental today :] And with that, I will leave you alone.

Carry on everyone.

 

Look a Little Harder

We just spent a week in the Tennessee mountains. Darren was turning 30 and as he has been saying such things to me as “the buttresses of his soul are collapsing” and “his youth is now a distant memory”….I thought maybe he could use a week away in the woods to soothe his sorrow as he faces this new decade of life ;] It worked too.

We spent most of the time tucked away in our cabin but we ventured out for a couple hours each day and wandered through the different shops in town. Then on our last day we decided to drive up into the woods and see what was hiding beyond the edge of town; it was worth the trip.

Just a few minutes out of town and we started noticing the distinct frost line running around the mountain tops and leaving everything capped in white.

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We drove up and up the mountain trying to get a better look.

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And soon the frosted trees looked more like fluffy billows of whipped-cream clouds than anything tethered to the brown winter earth.

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And we learned that sometimes you need to look a little harder to find the places where magic is hidden and winter is sleeping quietly on the snow-kissed mountain tops.

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{18 weeks pregnant and feeling a bit like a mountain myself}

That Time I Almost Blew It

I tend to take things very literally. Like, way too literally sometimes.

So here’s what happened.

Darren and I had been on one date. That one date was the only time I had ever seen Darren in my life but I liked him. We were in college and one evening after that first date I walked past him in the library. He was standing at a computer and when I walked by I punched him in the back, grinned, and kept on walking. When I walked back through the room Darren was still standing at the computer and I stopped a few computers down to check my email.

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Handsome Mr. Darren walks over and asks me if I want to go get an ice cream. And I was like, “no.”

That’s it. That’s all. No explanation, just no. Because, here’s the thing, I don’t really like ice cream and at that particular moment I literally didn’t want ice cream so the answer to his question was just no.

If he had asked me if I wanted to go out with him again, I would have said yes.

If he had asked me if I wanted to get a coffee and talk, I would have said yes.

If he has asked me if I wanted to go running around the building in the dark, I probably would have said yes.

But ice cream? No.

Poor guy. The time between the first and second date can be quite delicate, you know, when you’re waiting to see if the other person likes you enough to ask you out again or if they just sort of dodge you instead. So being the kind, sensitive person that I am, I flat-out turn Darren down the very next time he tries to talk to me. Ayy, yayy, yayy.

Lucky for me Darren is very persistent and kept asking me out…and he must have asked me the right questions after the ice cream mishap because here we are.

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Oddly enough, it was a while later on an ice cream date when I realized that I loved him…but I still don’t like ice cream so the answer to that is still no :]

You & Me

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Dear Darren,

Five years ago I said “I do” to you. That was pretty smart if you ask me. I love you for lots of reasons…some reasons I can’t always pin down or articulate, some I can. Here’s a few—I love you {in part} because:

268012_10150229426821517_7391311_nYou make  me smile

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And you make me laugh…a lot…sort of foolishly at times…until I can’t stop and everyone is staring at me…so thanks for that.

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I love you because you are silly and don’t take yourself too seriously.

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I love you because you are gentle and kind and good to every living thing. Your heart is huge and I love every inch of it.

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I love you because every winter, the first time it snows, you build me a miniature snow man and leave it on the counter for me to find.

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I love you because, hello, those arms are absolutely fabulous…oh, and you built that frame to go around the mirror for me…but mostly I like your arms.

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I love you because you work so hard and because we have invested ourselves in so many projects together. Thanks for teaching me how to sheet rock, babe.

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I love you even though you throw me in the lake sometimes.

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I love you because you are adventurous.

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I love you because you pick flowers for me…and you get kisses for it too :]

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I love you because you are the best uncle to our nieces and nephews and I know someday, you will be the best dad too.

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I love you for so many reasons and am thankful for each day we’ve had together and I look forward to each day to come.

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P.S. I love you very, very much for agreeing to build a fort on the living room floor and stay up all night watching movies to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Seriously, do they even make men better than that? I say no.