A Busy May Full of Visits and Transitions

I took a few weeks off of blogging in May – it was a bit of a crazy month! My dad visited at the end of April, then my mom came for a visit.

Our Chinese teacher (who has become a friend) graduated and moved across the country to be with her husband.

We had an ER trip for FangFang when she flipped her wheelchair over on top of herself. She was, fortunately and miraculously, completely fine.

We’ve had FangFang enrolled in public school, receiving homebound services, but we had her last session and withdrew her from public school.

I spoke at our church’s women’s retreat, where we studied the book of James, super hard-hitting. I loved getting that time away with other women, having good conversations, connecting, and worshiping together. The camping atmosphere was…not my favorite 🙂 But we did have cabins with beds, and there was an actual bathroom, and I survived! And I learned a lot studying James 3 and 4 in preparation for my talk about our speech, about our hearts, about our recognition (or lack thereof) of God in the world, and about humility and wisdom – a lot to cover but some really good stuff.

FangFang also managed to fit in a trip to urgent care. She fell off of a picnic table at the park, earning a cut on her face that required 5 stitches.

We spent a day in St. Louis with my cousin Kevin and his family, which was a blast. We really enjoy Kevin and Rebecca, and they have a daughter, Sawyer, who is just a bit older than Miranda, so we all had a really fun time hanging out together.

Matt finished his semester and headed to Michigan for 6 days, at which point my mom came back for another visit to help out while he was gone. We might have survived without her, but it was definitely incredibly helpful to have her here, especially since no one slept well for most of that week! Atticus, in particular, is very attached to his routines, including Matt putting him to bed each night, and he was not always pleased to have me hanging out with him instead. And we got to have some fun outings – going to a pow wow and spending a bit of time at the pool.

Then our horseback riding instructor (who has also become a good friend) moved to the St. Louis area, and while we can keep in touch, we’ve said goodbye to having her as our regular instructor and seeing her quite as frequently.

And we switched Miranda from her regular swim club to summer swim league at our local pool. And it…did not go well. It was super crowded, including a lot of older kids, with more of a focus on racing against other kids during practice, as opposed to just improving yourself. It took only a couple days of misery before we switched her back to her regular swim team! I should have paid more attention to my own counsel, realizing that finding an activity that works well with a coach or instructor who is a good fit is hard to do – those good instructors are worth their weight in gold – and we should have just stuck with what was working. But we made it right, and even though we lost some money, and I felt like a bit of a flake, I’m glad we did it 🙂

Then we wrapped up the month with a visit from my aunt and uncle! We got to have dinner and hang out with them and give them a brief tour of the Mizzou campus and just enjoy having a bit of time together.

The month was full of so much good stuff – we loved having visitors and opportunities for connection.

But also? I hate change. Knowing it is coming makes me nervous, and I always mourn for what we are losing. If it were up to me, I’d very rarely choose those transitions. And I think that’s one reason why God put me in a college town, where change happens constantly, and I’d have to deal with it. I can’t hold anything in my life too tightly, and I’m forced to embrace change and newness.

I’m still mourning the losses, the unexpected injuries, the moving of friends, and all the transitions. But I’m looking forward with hope to what is to come.

A Summer of Rest

This summer of 2016 has been such a blessing for us. We started out with the express goal of using these few summer months to recover, to rest, and to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. While we wish we could have a few additional months of life at this pace, I think this time has been a success.

Last winter and spring were filled with some of the most intense months of our married lives, as we contemplated and then committed to pursuing another adoption, as we faced the completely unexpected death of Matt’s sister, as Matt suffered a heart attack while we were in New York for her funeral (parts one, two, three, four, and aftermath), and then as we began to work out what all of that meant for our lives. We needed some time to recover and rest.

This is the first summer in years in which Matt has not had any undergraduate teaching responsibilities. It’s also one of the only summers in years in which we have not traveled to New York to visit our extended family there. We’ve said yes to some requests and invitations, but we’ve said no to many other opportunities – many of them good ones – and making all of those decisions has been hard.

However, the things to which we’ve been able to say “yes” instead have made it all worth it. I’ve had multiple one-on-one outings with each of my girls.

IMG_1908

IMG_1854

It’s so fun to see their different personalities come out in their own ways when I get to spend time with them individually!

Matt has also been able to spend a couple days a week focusing on time with the kids, which has been a blessing for them and for him. They do school together, take trips to the library, make art, and have all sorts of other fun experiences.

That has given me large blocks of time to do adoption paperwork, put in some extra work hours, and work on some household cleaning and re-organization. It’s been such a blessing to feel like there’s real space for those things to happen, instead of trying to work them into my schedule in bits and pieces while the kids are playing happily for 5 minutes at a time or after they go to bed.

I’ve also been able to take more time to read, one of my greatest pleasures! I’m currently making my way through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, and Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life. On top of that, I’ve been working out 2-3 times per week. I’ve been researching and learning about osteogenesis imperfecta and how we can be the best parents possible for our next little one. And Matt and I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series together and greatly enjoying that.

Matt has also been able to use the summer well. He has finished up cardiac rehab and transitioned to regular workouts at a local gym. He’s been able to write and to paint. He’s enjoying lunch dates with friends. And he’s generally appreciating having more space and time to think.

And in my regular days with our kids, it feels like we have a good rhythm that has allowed us to continue doing schoolwork but also have a lot of fun. We do park dates and pool time.

IMG_1674

IMG_0644

We celebrate adoption milestones.

JTCB8330

Overall, it has been so good to re-evaluate our priorities and really focus on what is most important. I’m a child of God, a wife, and a mom, and everything else comes after those roles. There will be other years for travel, other times for saying yes to great opportunities for serving and for living. But for this summer, time for rest was exactly what we needed, and I have every confidence that these times are going to set us up well for the year to come!