I can't even believe that the last time I blogged was the birth of Micah. How does that even happen? How exactly is it that I have 4 children (2 since that last post). It's a profound mystery folks. When I was blogging back in the day, I seriously felt like I was writing for an audience. I mean truthfully an audience of maybe 10 or so (mostly made up of family) but an audience none the less. As I have gone back this week and read those old posts I see I was really writing for myself. Those moments, thoughts, and ideas captured, it's like a snapshot into history, and as I read them I feel like I am reading a history book of my life. These snapshots are like gold to me. Let me tell you, when you are in the "throws of it" you naively think "I will have no trouble remembering this!". But I am here to say that is just untrue. You think it will stick with you, but as I look back I see how little I actually remember from years past.
Looking back two things stick out to me more than anything else.
1) I am not the same person, not even close.
2) The things that I considered "troubles" or "worries" aren't the same anymore
I have been shaped and molded these past several years. I feel like I have gone through the fire and come out changed.
Life has happened. I look back and I see a woman desperate to find her place in this world. Trying to figure out motherhood, friendships, faith, marriage. Looking at me now I am still figuring those things out. What is different now is I know I don't have to have all the answers. I have seen friendships come and go. I have made mistakes, a lot of them unfortunately. But I have learned what grace really is, and have learned to be gracious with myself. I have learned that it's ok to mess up, and own it without beating myself up.
I thought that blogging would be a great way to capture my kids growing up. But what it has really captured is me growing up. I am no longer that 20 something girl who worried so desperately about what people thought of me, or what the future would hold. I am no longer naive to loss or someone who views the loss of my toddlers naptime as "suffering". I have watched and comforted friends burying their children, parents, siblings, and have seen what suffering really is. I have been a student to these experiences and have learned a few things about God that I couldn't have learned any other way. Life has become so raw these past few years.
I have seen a church and community crumble under tragedy and scandal, something I never thought would happen. On the other side of it, I have seen people scatter to different churches, and different communities and be used in ways they never dreamt of. This was all born out of tragedy. It's a beautiful thing to see beauty come from ashes.
My husband and I have spent the past 2 years digging ourselves out of a broken marriage. Broken trust. Both of us have made mistakes and the result was bitterness and an overall lack of unity. When you are newly married you never think you will be that couple. The ones who all the sudden wake up and say "what the heck happened!? how did we get here?" But that is all part of the growing up too. You learn through mistakes, pain, heartache. We are mending now. Stronger in so many ways, all because we admitted we are weak and need help. All because God opened our eyes to the broken foundation we had built our marriage on all these years. What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good.
It's an imperfect process, growing up. Nothing could have taught me the lessons I have learned over the past few years, other than pure experience. No amount of reading could have prepared me. If I could have gone back in time and told the person of the past that "xy & z" will happen, and here is how you survive it. Not only would I not have believed it, but it wouldn't have worked. You can't appreciate loss, hurt, or sorrow, until you have lived it. You can't appreciate the beauty that rises out of ashes, until you experience the fire and come out on the other side.
I have never been the emotional type. I would cry over the occasional hallmark commercial or love story, but haven't ever been one to cry easily. I even remember always mocking my Mom and teasing her when she cried over every movie and even over the news (sorry Mom) Now, there are straight up waterworks over the most random of things. Last night I was looking back through old letters I wrote to Miya when I was pregnant with her (more on that later), but when I began to go back through these letters I began to sob. I know she thought I was crazy as she sat next to me and I wept through these letters. As I read them it hit me, how far God has brought me. How far he has brought us. As a family. As individuals. We are on this journey of growing up together. Many times I don't feel a day over 20. But my reflection tells a much different story. Sometimes I catch my reflection in the front glass door, or walking by a mirror and it startles me a bit. I see a woman who has weathered a few storms, spit up almost always on my right shoulder, skin that could really use more moisturizer or even concealer, hair that hasn't been combed yet for that day or maybe event the day prior, and a muffin top that I have learned to embrace for the now. I see all this, and I am surprised by how comfortable I have become with this woman that I see. Not to say I don't aspire to take better care of myself when the newborn fog passes. But I have grown to respect those hips that are wider because they birthed 4 children. Those wrinkles that stand out more representing each passing year of life. The spit up that marks another miraculous human that is growing right before my eyes, fed and sustained only by my body. That muffin top that I know will eventually go away, but that I kind of don't want to lose too soon because that means my baby is getting older.
I have found myself, that person who always thought "what's next!!?", longing to hold on to today a little longer. Longing to hold my toddler who in a blink won't want to snuggle on my lap. Longing to hold on to that newborn who is still so fresh and who will be my very last. It pains me as I type those words. It pains me to reflect on the passing of time, to acknowledge that time waits for no one. These days, as hard as they are, are the most beautiful and I am certain the sweetest days of my life. As I type this I hear my baby girl waking up on the monitor after a 20 minute cat nap that took an hour to achieve. This imperfect life has shaped me. I see God in new and wonderful ways. I just kind of want to linger here for now. I know in a blink I will be looking back and crying over these words I just typed. But for now, I will just live and try not to worry over how quickly that day will come.