committing to the harvest

We’re one year into parenthood, and there’s still much to come. Before I take another step forward, I need to stand firm here for a moment. That no matter what our day to day looks like – working full time or being a stay at home parent, whether we have one kid or too many to count, wherever we live, whatever we pursue –  that these things remain true.

Parenting is not easy. I already know that to be true. And so, now, at the forefront, I want to wrap my mind around the years to come. Here’s my hope for our future.

I’m committing to…

To the seemingly endless and full days. The mundane, boring-as-hell days and the jam-packed days. The chasing after and picking up after. Cleaning up messes and then making more messes.

To the “what am I doing with my life” moments to the “this is exactly where I need to be” ones.

To the work and intentionality of instilling values and ideas in our kids. Teaching them about language, art, and culture. Giving them memorable experiences that challenge and shape how they think about each other and the world around them.

To the giving up of myself so that there can be more for our kids. The selfless act of choosing to set some of me aside for the moment in order to fully pursue this dream, this goal, that’s right in front of me.

And then to pick it back up again, and be an example of pursuing passions, working hard, taking risk, showing up. Being brave. Showing myself worthy of expressing my full self.

To rumble in vulnerability, as a mom who will fail, struggle, and wrestle with how to approach hard things. To acknowledge my sin and weaknesses, to work my ass off in practicing humility, apologizing and asking forgiveness from my kids when I hurt them. To be healthy enough to teach them emotion language so that they can enter the world bravely.

To intentionally challenge myself to grow and rise up in my weaknesses in order to be an example of strength for my kids. To try to weave together an impactful story that my kids can learn from in their lifetime.

My prayer, that my life be a story of faithfulness and intentionality, of striving after Jesus.

I’m setting my mind, my heart, and my soul on this. That I give this, motherhood, my all. That maybe, somehow, our kids will grow to love well, equipped to face the world with all of its brokenness, relying on Jesus.

That someday we may reap all the seeds we’ve sown, and rest in peace and joy when the time comes.

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gender & marriage

“Better to be a dainty girl than a dainty boy.” This is what a woman said to me in a conversation after learning how small Maleia is for her age. I didn’t get a chance to respond because the conversation moved on right away, but my heart hurt. I’ve been diving deep over the last year on rethinking my theology on gender roles in a marriage, and I’m realizing how much expectation can be placed on specific genders to be and act a certain way too.

Being small doesn’t make you less of a man. Being small doesn’t make you more of a woman. I see Maleia getting praised for being a certain way because she’s a girl, like her small size or pretty smile or “sweet” demeanor, and then receive subtle comments on “less feminine” aspects about her, like her short hair or any time she’s not wearing pink or purple or a bow. She can’t control any of these things, but why are these the definitions of femininity or masculinity for her right now?

Wearing pink, having long hair, playing with tea cups doesn’t express femininity any more than wearing red, having short hair, and playing with trains. Working on cars and being interested in sports doesn’t express masculinity any more than loving to cook dinner and being a full-time stay at home dad.

Maleia gets called a boy all the time. I can understand why because, ha, she’s a baby and let’s be real most of the time it’s hard to tell just by looking when there aren’t context clues. Every time I hear “oh he’s so cute! How old is he?” I think about the future. I think about how I’ve felt silenced or lesser-than, or have been treated differently because I’m a woman. I’m desperate to change that for Maleia. I want her to know that her voice matters, her education matters, her thoughts and ideas matter. Her creativity matters. That she’s capable and responsible for her own spiritual life. That she can lead well. That she’s equally as important in the world. She deserves mutual respect and mutual love, and should offer the same to others. These remain true no matter what she’s wearing or what she looks like.

I think back to my theology of marriage when we first got married. Besides changing my name (which I should have taken more seriously), I don’t think we’ve lived out the theology we professed then, and it never really made sense in practice for us. We’ve been talking about it constantly over this last year, and we’re embracing a different idea that encompasses what our relationship actually looks like: mutual respect, mutual love, mutual leadership, mutual submission. 

There’s a lot to process still, and I’m in the middle of uncovering what it all means. I have a lot more thoughts that I’ll post here in time. Y’all, sometimes parenting is terrifying. How are we supposed to raise a human being well when we’re still learning and growing in a broken world too? Clearly I don’t have all the answers but I’m grateful for a God that is persistently changing me and giving grace. I know everyone has different beliefs on gender and/or gender roles in a marriage, and I respect that and I’m learning to love it. I believe there’s beauty in that diversity and that maybe we can have a fuller view of who God is because of those differences.

The Story of Our Engagement

Five years ago today Nathan asked if I’d marry him. We came home from college for Pumpkin Festival weekend to see family and friends (our hometown’s annual fall festival). We took the train from Chicago on a Friday night, and we stopped at the Morton high school football game to watch the marching band perform their halftime show. Nathan was on their drum line back in the day, and the band was a huge part of his life. We caught up with some friends there and enjoyed the crisp air and nostalgia of home.

I remember people being a little weird around me. I thought maybe I looked funny, or I had done something odd, because people kept whispering to Nathan and giving me looks. After the game, we left for his parents’ house.

As we pulled into the driveway, there stood our families and close friends holding lit pumpkins that read “Megan, will you marry me?” carved into them.

Continue reading “The Story of Our Engagement”

Starting Again

Seven months! That’s how old Maleia is today, and how long it’s been since I’ve written anything. Babies aren’t predictable. Why isn’t that in the instruction manual? Oh wait, there isn’t one? Oh yeah, that’s why I have no idea what I’m doing and why I haven’t written in so long.

Now that I’ve unburied myself a bit after having Maleia, I’ve been poking my head up and looking around. I have a little more space to breath and to notice what habits I’ve formed since she’s joined us.  And I’m convicted that I’ve become addicted to my phone.

I think it’s taking time and energy away from being a more productive and engaged mom, spouse, and friend. I waste so much time on it because it’s easy. Maleia isn’t engaged enough to crawl, sit, stand, walk, or talk yet, so our home is quiet (except for 40% of the time when she’s screaming about something). To fill that quiet, I’ll grab my phone to look at pictures, go on Instagram, check Facebook, refresh my email, scroll through forums, and browse websites for the latest baby items that all of a sudden I feel the need to own.

Maleia already knows how much I value my phone because she watches how often I stare at it. She’s already reaching for it to play with. I treat my phone is like it’s another person that gets to take up space and conversation in our home and family.  If Maleia learns her values from us, right now she’s learning the value of technology, and specifically, the value of not being present with people. When I stare at my phone instead of interacting with her, she’s internalizing that my phone is more valuable than her, and years from now, she’ll believe her phone is more valuable than other people too.

How heartbreaking. I talk about the value of being present with people, but I’m not living it out in my own home. I want to change that. I want her to know she comes first, and real people come first. Technology (for the most part) isn’t necessary to live a full, enjoyable life. It can be good and helpful, for sure. What would I do without Amazon and Google? And I will never stop taking thousands of pictures of our children and family either. These are necessities. But life is not lived well when it’s spent looking at other people’s lives digitally. Most of the time, I’m looking at posts and pictures that don’t add value to my life. It takes me down trails that lead to feelings of being less than, other than, or not enough. Too often it makes me feel discontent.

Maleia will grow up with more technology than any previous generation. She’ll have more opportunities to engage with it from the start of her life than we did. I’m afraid she’ll miss the opportunity to learn how to be creative, to fill quiet spaces with stories, games, people, and play. Life is better when we’re present with the people and spaces in front of us. It’s good for the soul to be bored and undistracted. It gives us opportunities to create, think, and breath.

This is a hard decision for me. I’ve considered deleting all of my social accounts in the past, but I hesitate to disconnect myself from family and friends who live far away. I wonder, though, how much more I’d reach out to engage in real relationship if I’m not engaged digitally? A real relationship isn’t dependent on liking each other’s Instagram’s and Facebook posts. It’s based on real conversations through phone calls, face-time talks, texts, and face-to-face quality time. In the end, I think I’d place higher value on having a deeper relationship by disconnecting from these digital, shallow relationships.

I’m still considering what this will look like. Should I keep my phone charging in the kitchen so I’m not tempted to look at it all the time? Will I totally disconnect from social media, or limit myself to 20 minutes at the end of the day? Unplugging, to any degree, will be a positive change. I’m sure I’ll go through some form of detox because I’ve been living like my phone is necessary. I carry it around with me 95% of the time, even throughout our small apartment. How sad.

Maleia will grow up learning from our natural ways of living life. The words we say, shows we watch, our habits, our way of forming relationships, the people who fill our home, how we deal with boredom, the places we go, what we eat, how we pursue our passions, how we live out our faith. Through these, our home culture is formed. In this space of home, of safety and nurture, she learns what to value. She learns everything here first.

I know we’ll make mistakes as parents. We already have. Being a parent is choosing to give ourselves over to a lot of raw feelings like fear, pain, loss, anger, regret, and unknowns. It’s constantly vulnerable. Vulnerability is so hard, but it’s work worth pursuing. It’s where love begins and where it grows. My hope and prayer is that through this change of leaving my phone alone, our children learn the value and necessity of community lived in real relationships with people face-to-face.

On the 1,000th try of breastfeeding

Never in my life have I both so loved and been so frustrated at any one thing.

Never in my life have I sworn so many times.

Never in my life have I so quickly gone from the highest high from achieving a breastfeeding success, to an absolute low of utter frustration that, once again, my 2 week old daughter is in frustrated tears because we can’t get a good latch, or because, well, who knows. She’s a baby. I have no idea what she wants. I’m new here.

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It’s both a blessing and a curse that babies eat like 8 times a day. Because there’s always

an opportunity to try again and work hard to make it better the next time. But after hundreds of attempts, I dread the idea that the upcoming feeding could once again unfold into just pain and cursing and anger.

Any other time, when someone or something hurts me, I’d avoid it. It’s hard to not project those feelings onto Maleia. I love her so much, but I dread these nursing sessions. Breastfeeding has been so much m

ore challenging than I expected. I thought it would be natural and easy. I thought I was prepared, at least.

I’m learning perseverance. Right now it’s stressful and confusing, and I don’t know when it will get better. I’m ex

hausted. I constantly want to give up and just use formula, and I know that would still be okay. I wouldn’t feel like a failure, but I want to give this my best try first. I’m learning how to love this little person day by day, and this is part of it. Some of this love is natural and easy, and some I’m having to grow in. This extra challenge makes me want a break from her sometimes, and it’s hard to not feel guilty over that.

I’m so thankful for the people in our life right now who can come over and show me what breastfeeding is supposed to look and feel like. And we’ve been overwhelmed with blessings by family and friends who’ve provided food for us, checked in on us, and helped us during this time. We’re so thankful. These weeks are long, hard, and confusing, and that helps so much.

I know this post is short and doesn’t have an ending, but we’re still in the middle of this story, so say a prayer for us, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Our Story of Possible Miscarriage

I want to share our story with you. It’s not spectacular or dramatic. In all honestly, it’s very ordinary. But it changed us, and that makes it important and worth sharing.

While we were visiting Dallas in April, we thought I had started to miscarry. I thought I was about 7 weeks along, but we weren’t able to see a fetal pole in our first ultrasound. My hormone levels were high, we were told, so this wasn’t a good sign. Then we found out my hormone levels weren’t rising like they should, and in the week following our first ultrasound- which happened to be the week we were in Dallas- I started to bleed on and off.

Over and over, my doctor told us “This pregnancy doesn’t seem to be progressing as it should. If you start having any pain or heavy bleeding, please call us.”

FA3FF4CD-BA48-46BB-911E-40C87F5203E2Almost every day, ever hour of our time in Dallas, we swung between feelings of despair and hope, devastation and joy, disappointment and peace. I’ll never forget walking through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and receiving a call from my doctor that my second round of blood work had come back, and hearing for the fourth time, I would most likely miscarry. Walking through so much beauty in the gardens, the Lord gave us the perfect place to reflect on how life is precious and beautiful even when it’s tiny and surreal.

All week, we anticipated the worst. As we looked for a new apartment, explored our new city, and ate to our heart’s content, we spent a lot of time alone together. We cried, we prayed, and we mourned. We asked God to protect this life knowing the outcome wasn’t in our control.

We knew, either way, this baby had already changed us. “Whatever happens, you are the best gift we have ever been given. We will love you for however long we have you and more.”

Continue reading “Our Story of Possible Miscarriage”

Dear My Pregnant Self, Remember This

Dear my pregnant self,

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In this time of change, I’m here to remind you of a few important things. These reminders are for today, and for every season that you feel like you’re falling apart. Claim these truths about your identity and your life.

Grace is needed. You’re going through a lot. Let yourself come undone, knowing that it might look ugly and unattractive, but that it’s real life.

It’s okay to cry about it. Your emotions are all over the place, and that’s normal. Balance the crazy by recognizing what’s irrational, but don’t allow yourself to emotionally shut down because those feelings don’t make sense. Cry over that spilled milk, and then laugh about it later. It’s healthier that way.

Remember that it won’t last forever. This is just a season. Mostly, it’s preparation for what’s coming next. Don’t stop being honest with yourself and with others. Keep yourself in community and hold yourself accountable through good friends and family who will encourage you and push you in the right direction.

Let yourself be vulnerable even when you feel ugly inside and out. There is freedom in honesty. It ushers repentance and forgiveness, and reminds us that we are all broken sinners. Don’t pretend you’re perfect. Embrace those hips, the extra weight your gaining everywhere, and the fact that your baby bump just makes you look like a giant lump. Embrace the fact that cooking dinner is 100% more difficult, and don’t believe the lie that it’s pathetic. Enjoy taking those 2 extra naps a day and don’t feel guilty about it. Embrace the fact that your life is changing, and you’re walking in shaky, unknown territory. You might look like a fool sometimes, and it’s okay.

Remember that life is worth enjoying, and you are worth the effort to take care. When you’re nauseas, tired, and irritable, and don’t feel like yourself, remember that you are still loved and cared for. Remember that you’re not in this alone and you don’t have to apologize when you ask for help or when people offer to help. Know that you and your spouse have a lot of growing to do together, and that you are for each other and with each other. It’s perfectly okay to embrace those extra things that make pregnancy and motherhood easier for you, even though so many other women tell you they aren’t necessary.  Be comfortable, and enjoy. Continue to live life to the fullest, and do it for Jesus. Because of all the hormonal changes, low mood and/or depression in pregnancy is common. Take care of yourself. You’re worth it.

Remember that your story is unique and you can’t compare yourself to anyone else because it’s unfair to you both.  Everyone’s pregnancy is different, and everyone handles it differently. Just because your friend had a 30 minute labor and lost so much weight postpartum that she’s actually skinnier now than before she got pregnant, that doesn’t mean that will be your story. You’ll be sorely disappointed when it’s not. Be humble in your expectations. Don’t keep one eye open to how everyone else is doing. Focus on you, and don’t rope yourself into unfair games that leave you feeling less than and inadequate.

Remember that Jesus loves you and lives in you and is sustaining you. Right now and forever. Remember that he’s already died for your sins and covered you with grace upon grace. Remember that you are in the process of being sanctified, and you’ve come a long way, and have a long way to go. Remember that your faith looks different now than in any other time of your life, and it’s good.

Remember that there’s more to you and your life than just being pregnant. Don’t neglect your passions and skills. Keep doing the things that you love, and adjust as you need to as the baby grows and joins your family.

Remember that you’re not the only pregnant woman to walk this earth. For all your friends who aren’t pregnant, married, or dating, or even remotely in the same vein of life as you, remember to ask people how they’re doing and take genuine interest in their lives. Don’t let pregnancy dominate your relationships. It’s not all about you, and you still need another people.

Lastly, remember that you can’t control. Cherish this time. There’s no age that is safe from loss and tragedy, and this life inside you is an incredible gift.

Dear My Pregnant Self, Be Kind

Dear my pregnant self,

You’re coming apart a bit.

I’m here to remind you of a few things, and to break some news.

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Have you noticed that you’re irritable? Physically uncomfortable? And that your thoughts rapidly spill out of your mouth without being filtered? Your emotions swing side to side, and it’s hard to control them at times. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Any pregnant woman will tell you that.

But remember, you’re still responsible for your words and actions. 

You feel like you’re losing control over your body. You’re gaining weight like crazy, and in the most unflattering places. When people comment on your baby bump, you think “No, that’s just too many fries and fruity pebbles.”

You’ve been debilitatingly nauseous and unable to do much of anything. The only food that doesn’t make you feel sick is sugary and full of carbs, which make you gain weight faster and feel worse. You sleep, sleep, sleep, and avoid working out. You don’t know your body anymore, and it’s harder to take care of.

Oh, and not only are you pregnant, but everything else in your life is changing. You just moved across the country, and have worked through a to-do list that was longer than your college senior thesis. You’re still tying up loose ends so you don’t get slammed with fees, notices, and extra bills, and you’re bank account reaches a new level of low.

You had to say goodbye to some of your best friends, not knowing when you’ll see them next, hoping that you’re able to maintain healthy long-distance friendships. You miss them already. You’re starting over in a new community, finding a new church, and praying that you fit in at your new place. Your family is far, far away and finding a new, healthy rhythm in those relationships will take time.

You just graduated college, and you’re working through career moves and changes. You’re deciding whether or not to look for a job, and wondering what you’d even enjoy doing. It’s confusing.

Well, I’m here to remind you, friend, to be kind to yourself and to others. Despite the pressure, there are no rules that say you have to be perfect and together. And just as importantly, remember that your words and actions are still impactful.

You’re still called to love others, and to represent Jesus. How you handle all these changes matters.

Rely more on Jesus as your weaknesses become even more evident in difficult times. Trust that he’s with you still, and that you’re still loved and worthy. Continue to ask for forgiveness when you sin against others, and strive to be changeable, teachable, and humble in your pursuit of becoming more like Jesus. 

We’re Finally Here!

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For all those who are wondering, we made it to Texas!

We are slowly unpacking boxes, and are living in a bit of a mess. We love our new place, and are finding ways to make it our own. Two flights of stairs will be good exercise for us too, despite our out-of-breath grumbles to each other.

Thank you, our parents, for helping us move. We promise to hire someone next time and spare you.

Nathan’s new team has been so welcoming and amazing. Last night we went to a minor league baseball game with most of the families, and enjoyed the company and conversation. (Don’t ask me who won, I have no idea.) All of them have several kids, and are older than us. I’m glad to have people around us to guide us into parenthood and to help us adjust to life here. We’re excited to get to know them.

We’ll be trying new churches for a while. We’ve received many recommendations and are encouraged we’ll find a good fit in time.

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We’ve moved into a new community before, and are no strangers to the process. We’re used to living farther away from family, but the major change will be that we can’t just drive down for the weekend every so often.

We know it takes time to find friends, and get plugged in. That part is really sucky, but we’ll get there.

As for me, I’m still checking items off our moving to-do list. BabyH is doing well. I’m at the stage where none of my clothes fit me, but I’m not yet big enough for maternity clothes. I’m still really nauseas without medication, and am tired often. I’m hoping these both start to dwindle off in the next few weeks, as I’m now starting trimester 2. Luckily, there’s a free gym and tons of pools in our apartment complex. Thank goodness for that. It’s freaking hot here.

Here are some ways you can pray for us:

  • For Nathan’s new job. It will be a huge change, in the best way. Pray he adjusts to it well, and thrives. And that we would find a new rhythm in our relationship too with this change.
  • For my job. I can start looking for a job now that we’re here. Pray for direction and provision, if this is the right step for me.
  • For good doctors. I loved my obgyn in Lake Forest, IL. And my chiropractor, and our car mechanic, and my grocery store, and so many other services there. Pray we find places/people here who will take care of us well too.
  • For a good church & quick friends. 

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Now that we’re settling in, you’ll be seeing more posts from me. This is one way we can stay connected to people we love who live all over the country. Be sure to follow me to stay updated, and so we can keep up with you too!

 

 

Our Texas Adventure

We’re moving to Texas!

Nathan has loved his time at Moody Global Ministries, and will be sadly leaving at the end of April. Moody has been a place to gain experience, to be challenged, and to discover his love for marketing and for helping non-profit organizations. We are elated for him to continue moving forward in these fields.

After I graduated, we had a lot to work through as we thought about our future together. What are our individual dreams and goals, and how do they fit together? Where do we want to be in 5 years, and how can we get there? Big questions to answer. 

One of the many reasons why I didn’t pursue a full-time job after I graduated in December was to give us more freedom. I didn’t want to tie us down while we figured out what we both wanted to pursue next. I needed time to rest and rejuvenate anyway, so this was a natural next step for me. I felt that we had been at Moody for so long because I was finishing school, and wanted to give Nathan the space to explore his passions and find a great, new opportunity that he would really love.

As we looked at our lifestyle, it was glaringly apparent that it wouldn’t allow for us to live out our values and long-term goals. Nathan still had to commute by himself 2.5 hours a day. While he handles the commute much better than I ever did, it still meant early mornings, short nights, little time to be with people here, and no energy to pursue his other passions. It also strained us financially as we pay off our student loans. Spiritually, we both felt it would be healthy to take a step back from this environment.

Nathan looked at several opportunities, and finally accepted a job offer last month. This means we’ll be moving to Dallas in June!

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We are sad to leave our Church family and friends here, and will miss our home. We love the people we’ve met and the memories we’ve made. This place has been so good for us in the toughest and best times of our life together. As we say goodbye, we could not be more excited for this new adventure.

How You Can Pray For Us

  • A new place to live. We are taking a trip to Dallas on April 15-20 to find a place to live. We’ve had a tough time finding options that fit our budget and size needs. We’re hoping to find something while we’re there. Ideally, we’d love to rent a home or townhouse. Pray we find a great place to live that’s close to Nathan’s new office.
  • A smooth transition. This is a huge change, and we’re ready for the challenge. I’m sure the closer we get to moving, the harder leaving will become. This will be the farthest we’ve ever lived from family and all of our closest friends.
  • Good friends & community. We’ll be looking for a new church, and new friends to connect with. Pray we can find a church we love right away, and be able to start serving quickly.
  • Direction for me. This means I can start looking for a job, or pursue other options that I’ve been dreaming about. Pray for continued vision for what’s next for me, and for the energy and motivation to pursue it. I’ve been thankful for this season to support Nathan as he pursues a new opportunity, and now I can be more active in my goals too.
  • Provision for Moody. Pray they would be able to rehire his position quickly, and that they will be able to find people to continue support their vision. Moody is doing great work, and is always in need of knowledgable people to keep propelling them forward.

We’re looking forward to lots of sunshine, to exploring a new city, and to see what God has in store for us here. Come hang out with us before we leave at the end of May!