I’ve been mostly missing from social media for the past four months, so I’ll start with a few pictures to catch you up. (Also because I feel some unnecessary guilt for not posting these on Facebook…sorry faraway fam and friends…my intentions have been good…)
In June we found out we were expecting #2! He or she is due in February!
Also in June, Sam’s “Grandma Su,” my mom, came to visit from Minnesota for two weeks. Oh, it was so nice to have a grandma around!
In July and August we traveled. A lot. We spent over two weeks in Texas and two weeks in Minnesota.
While in Texas, we saw my bestie and Sam’s namesake, Samantha. I will always love this girl for setting me up with my husband and, thereby, making baby Sam possible. (We also saw lots of other friends and family; I’m just horrible at taking pictures.)
Also while in Texas, Buc and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by staying in a sweet little Bed and Breakfast for three nights. Sam’s other grandma, “Nanny” Margie, babysat. During those couple of days, I used the vacant lounge at the B&B to mostly finish my book. (I resubmitted my manuscript to a publisher earlier this week and eagerly await their response.)
And I must mention that my husband fulfilled a lifelong dream during this time: purchasing a ’69 Corvette. “Lindsey [#2]” stayed back in Texas where we have garage space, but Buc hopes to move her to Missouri soon. (Here’s a pic of the fam in the new Corvette, riding in the 4th of July parade! Miserable pic of the Corvette, but oh well. It’s my blog, and I like pictures of people better than pictures of things!)
In Minnesota, Sam caught up with his other grandparents, Daryl and Juanita (sorry again, major picture-taking lapse), and met many of his cousins at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Manda Tumberg.)
I also celebrated my 31st birthday. We had not been to Minnesota since the last time I was pregnant, or two years ago. It was a very overdue visit. (Photo courtesy of Manda Tumberg.)Back in Missouri, needing a more kid friendly place (and with a new baby in mind), we began the process of closing on a house. Here is the new kitchen I can’t wait to move into. (All that counter and cupboard space–yes!!!)
Unfortunately, due to a snafu with the gas inspection, our closing has been delayed, we had to cancel our movers for today, and I am stuck with this for a kitchen for at least another week.
At first I was tempted to cry.
But then I prayed, and God reminded me he is in control. So I will slow down; enjoy the last days of summer; and be thankful that, with all my pots and pans packed, I won’t have to do much cooking for the next week!
Now, with my book manuscript submitted, and with my priorities re-calibrated, I plan to do some blogging again–at least until #2 arrives, at which point I’m sure I’ll take more blogging breaks.
Praying my friends, family, and readers are blessed, as well. It’s good to be back!
I’m taking a break from my blog. I love it, but that’s the problem: I love it a little too much. In this season of life (early motherhood, moving to a new state, The Love Dare), lost in my own learning curves, I’ve lost audience awareness; I’ve slipped into nearly moving my diary online.
The fact is, I don’t have the capacity to write for an audience right now. At least not a blog audience, because a blog audience needs continual attention, much like the husband I am trying to love better; the one-year-old son who needs me constantly; and my God, who hasn’t been hearing much from me lately. (Ouch.)
But for me not blogging doesn’t mean not writing. While away, I will continue to write. I need to keep writing, in fact, to cope with all the growth and change happening around and within me. I just need to write for awhile without an audience, except my Savior, so I can listen better to him instead of worrying about what readers will think, or how to package my thoughts under a catchy title, or what content will get the most “likes.” I need some quiet time to be raw and real, to pray and journal, and to get back to that “empty notebook” strategy and the “writing to my roots” approach that evoked the germ of this blog and my first memoir—the core message of which I still believe needs an audience. (I’m asking God right now if it’s the right time to revise that memoir yet again…)
In time, I believe I will hit upon another message that deserves an audience–an audience to include (most likely) new mothers, impatient wives, writers, and well-intentioned (but struggling) sons and daughters of God. For now, I am seeking wisdom again, in and for this new stage of life. For now, I need to listen more than I speak; I need to read more than I write; and I need to write more than I blog.
My dad has a simple rule for determining whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert: extroverts draw energy from other people, introverts are drained by the same. There’s no doubt that Dad’s an extrovert. Or that I’m not.
During my past two weeks in Texas, I’ve enjoyed wonderful times with friends. I’ve had meals out with some of them, taken Sam to play with others, and prayed with yet a few more through difficult issues. I feel I have been available to these precious people to an extent I was not able before we moved away. I was even able to bless some of them with the work of my hands and my words of advice or prayers. And I’ve loved every minute of this time.
But last night at 10 p.m., when I realized I had not taken time in seven days to sit down and write, and when I could only gaze defeatedly at The Love Dare book, which has had a bookmark in day 20 for quite some time, I found myself moaning, “I’m not ready for another morning yet.” I knew it was time for this introvert to go “home” and get refreshed herself.
Life is an interesting journey. How did St. Louis become my “home” in just a few months? It’s not “home” in the sense that I have extended family or many friends there (about one friend so far). But it is becoming home in the sense that I have set up my own household, established some patterns, and can expect some routine in my week, more or less. While I love the excitement of our back-and-forth travels from Missouri to Texas, and the extra family time on travel days with “daddy,” I find comfort in routine. And quiet time. And my own space.
I am beginning to doubt this arrangement we have of visiting TX and staying in our old house with my in-laws every couple of months…for the long term (if you missed the details, see this post). Especially if we have another baby. Buc asked me last night, “If we end up getting pregnant, would you rather be based in Texas or in Missouri for the delivery and newborn period?” Good question. There’s no doubt where I would rather be for that early period. Near family and friends. But what about all the days after? As I’ve learned, motherhood gets easier as the first year goes on, but not much easier.
After our last visit, we talked of getting a house in Missouri at the end of this year, but what if there’s a new baby? And no family around to help? And travels back and forth with an infant and toddler?
There would be depression, I’m pretty sure. And maybe insanity.
If we get pregnant, I think we have to look at getting our own space in Texas again, somehow. Maybe it would mean seeing daddy less, as he travels back and forth on business without us in tow. That thought makes me sad, but the thought of toting two kids between two states every couple months, and having to reestablish family patterns, sleep patterns, meal patterns, ALL patterns, every couple of months makes me CRAZY.
For now, I am handling the mild damage control that travel requires when it comes to changes in Sam’s sleep, and changes to Buc’s and my routines. And I have been so blessed to get to see my friends without strings attached (strings such as having to hold offices at my church during this season of early motherhood). But I am relieved to know that this season is temporary–it has to be. At some point, things will change again, and we won’t be traveling so much. I don’t know when, or how, but if there’s anything predictable about life, it is that (as my dad also said), “Life is predictably unpredictable!”
I’m thirty years old with a ten-year-old marriage and a one-year-old son, and I’ve realized I’m stupid in love.
Not stupid in dreamy, teenage girl love, or romantic young woman love. Those are some of the false notions of love paraded in media and in our culture, and I know all about those. Those are the kinds of love that get you into trouble with teenage boys, and that get your foot through the door of marriage, but rarely any farther.
No, I’m stupid in agape love. God’s love. The love that chooses to love when someone is unlovely, when someone is angry, when someone needs you all the time and can’t return a favor. How did it come to my attention that I’m stupid in love?
I sought degrees, careers, publishing credits, and pats on the back from friends, church members, and family—because these investments weren’t risky…I knew I could keep them, no matter what.
One of my accomplishments was co-writing a book called The Hidden Half of the Gospel. It’s a book about how Jesus can heal our suffering, because he went through everything we did. And through the writing of that book, and through participating in the accompanying prayer ministry, I did largely heal from my suffering.
I began to open up to people like never before. I began to seek relationships. I began to spread the healing message I had learned in prayer groups and women’s ministry. My social life became the fullest it’s ever been. And I even decided to take the risk of having a child.
I thought I was pretty well equipped for this new job of motherhood and homemaking, what with all the healing I’d done.
Well, I wasn’t.
Yes, I had experienced the love of Jesus pouring into my heart—that’s what healed me from my own childhood wounds. But over the past year-ish of parenting—and especially since we’ve moved to St. Louis, where I mostly sit at home with my husband and son, stripped of outside relationships, accomplishments, and recognition—I’ve realized I’m not well equipped at all. I’m bad at putting my husband and son ahead of myself. I’m stupid in love.
It shows up in my short temper with Buc for not helping clean our new, tiny, easily dirtied kitchen. It shows up in my irritation at Sam for waking at “inconvenient times,” or for taking up “my” writing time. It shows up in my resistance to embracing the fact that THIS IS MY CALLING; THIS IS MY LIFE’S WORK RIGHT NOW.
The Love Dare has honestly helped me more than any self-help book I’ve read—and I’ve read a lot—because it is getting my mind off myself. For most of my twenties, I thought the best thing I could do was to focus on improving myself, because I was a miserable creature. But while “self-directed self-improvement” is sometimes called for, too much of it can ruin your heart for others. I think this is where I was before The Love Dare.
Before the dare, I was still too focused on developing myself and my career that I forgot my roles also include homemaking, wifehood, and motherhood—because God created women for these roles. I’m not saying he created us for these things exclusively, but when we have husbands and children—as I do—they should definitely be top priorities.
Yes, I needed The Love Dare to challenge me, to move me out of my prideful high place, and to put me back in the driver’s seat of God’s callings for me of wife, homemaker, and mom. I needed a “self-improvement program” that judges my progress within the context of how much time and effort I am putting into others—because where we spend our time (and money, if we have it) shows what we really love.
At this point, I’d say I’m still “stupid” in love. But I am learning. Day by day, and dare by dare. Slowly, my life is beginning to look more others-centered.
This week I wrote on my Facebook page that I’m addicted to self-help books. But that’s softening the problem. Really, I’m just addicted to myself (that’s the human condition, you know). But this week, and for the next month, I’m working to change that through reading and performing The Love Dare, which you might remember from the movie Fireproof.
I’m one week into “The Love Dare,” or the forty-day challenge of doing something specific for my spouse every day; and already I feel that it’s is changing me. From my words to my actions to my thoughts, I am being challenged to be kind to my husband, give him the benefit of the doubt, and extend grace. Oh, and to be the first to initiate these loving traits, even if and when he doesn’t deserve them. It sounds kind of hard. But it hasn’t been, not really.
I’m a nerdy sort of a girl who likes to learn things from books, who likes step-by-step instructions. The Bible gives me the core principles on love (God is love, love keeps no record of wrongs, I should forgive seventy times seven times, etc.), and it also give me the perfect example in the life of Jesus (because Jesus is God in the flesh)…but The Love Dare, with its day-by-day steps, has given me a format that my personality loves.
As a Melancholy wife, I’ve always felt I needed to keep some kind of record of Buc’s wrongs; it was my job to correct him and perfect him (sound familiar, women?). In fact, trying not to nag Buc has been my biggest challenge during our ten years of marriage. Want to know what the first dare was? (Did author Alex Kendrick have me in mind when he wrote this?)
“Speak only positive words to your spouse,” and “if you can’t be positive, don’t say anything at all.”
Even if I had stopped there, I think I would still feel a change at home.
It’s actually a relief to be told that, for today, and for the next thirty-nine days, my task is not to say anything negative to Buc. (I even have a place to check off each dare, and a page and a half to journal about my thoughts each day!) As I’ve continued to implement my daily dares, it’s been a relief to know that my words will not cause any arguments for the day; it’s a relief to have decided beforehand that any negative thoughts I will “take captive” to Christ–I will not say them to Buc.
I can’t say I’ve done a perfect job in my first week of dares, but I can say my home is more peaceful; many petty arguments have been eliminated; and my new thoughtfulness is often being returned. All in all, The Love Dare is positively impacting my home environment, and it’s probably doing as much to refine my character as any self-help book I’ve read. Who knew that putting others above yourself (in a healthy, Christlike way–not in a martyr-like, self-effacing way–of course) was actually a form of self-help, too?
And now, dear [Lindsey], I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. (2 John 1:5)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.. (1 John 4:7)
God knew, that’s who. I’m so glad to serve such a wise God, and I look forward to learning more about his character as I practice loving my husband better.
Sam was a different baby when we moved away from Texas. Not yet one, not yet walking. When we returned to our Texas house a few weeks ago, he was one and walking, and this made the house a different house.
I took Sam into the backyard, now that he could walk and explore. I watched as he poked a stick in the dirt, toddled through leaves, pulled up soft green grass, and listened to dogs barking down the street. What a playground for my sweet little boy: It was open, fenced in, and ours…but not ours anymore, because we moved away from this house and this yard, and we were only visiting them, and visiting my in-laws, who are renting from us until we can move back.
I didn’t yet mention on this blog that Buc’s new job requires him to visit TX often—every one or two months. He is now a regional manager for a St. Louis based company (hence the move), but the region he manages is in Texas (hence our visits “home”). We accepted the position ready for a new adventure, but hoping to move back to Texas at some point, when Buc could work in the field and we could again be close to friends and family.
Until we move back (fingers crossed), Sam and I get to join Buc on business trips and stay in our old house with my in-laws. After our first visit back, I’m having lots of thoughts about our move to Missouri, and our visits to Texas, and the benefits and drawbacks of both. I’ve concluded this arrangement is good, and it’s also weird.
It’s good to be back in a one-level house, where Sam is not at risk of falling down stairs, and where my knee is not taxed by carrying Sam up and down those stairs twenty times a day. And it’s good to have a backyard that is fenced in where Sam can play.
But it’s weird, too. It’s weird to come back to a house that’s ours, but not really ours. It’s weird to stay in the guest room when once we stayed in the master. It’s weird to not have a vehicle of my own to take out at leisure. It’s weird to get out of the routine I set up in St. Louis, being so efficient with naptimes and evenings, to spend time with other people, because there are people around to spend time with.
Still, it’s good to have another person in the house during the day besides Sam and me. It’s good to have my father-in-law joke with Sam and make funny voices at him, as Sam toddles into the TV room for the fourteenth time that day and growls, “Papa!” (How Sam loves his Papa!)
It’s good to have my mother-in-law’s helping hands when she gets home from teaching in the afternoons. It’s good for Buc and me to get out by ourselves for a bit, when she’s watching Sam. It’s good to see Sam laughing his head off with his “Nana,” who is a Kindergarten teacher and so good at physical play.
It’s good to be able to help my in-laws just a little, by cooking healthy food for them.
This arrangement is weird, and it’s good. It also makes me wonder: What did we do, moving to St. Louis, away from friends and family and our beautiful, baby-friendly house that we just finished renovating? (But we didn’t realize how much we would appreciate an open, one-story house while our baby was yet a crawler, not a walker. And I didn’t know that all these stairs would damage my knee—well, it could be partly due to Jillian Michael’s Thirty Day Shred, too, which I have given up indefinitely.
Satan is so good at planting doubts, isn’t he?
I’m not sad we moved. But I see the limitations now. I see the new struggles that have come from this move, and they muddy the gloss of our new adventure a bit. But just a bit.
God gave me a blessed peace in the days after returning from our bittersweet trip. Sam didn’t sleep well and neither did I, especially because we were all trying to recover from sickness, but it’s like a voice spoke into my frazzledness.
Rest. (I napped during Sam’s morning naps for the next two days, rather than trying to push forward on my writing.) Take care of your family. (I chose to keep up with my healthy cooking plan by grocery shopping and making two big meals for the week. I have learned that good nutrition is a priority; we all feel better when we eat better.) Find joy in the mundane. (I am learning to involve Sam in the daily tasks I have to do; I am trying to see him as the little person he is, a person to involve in life and teach about life, rather than a weight I must lug around.) Laugh with your son. (When I pay attention to Sam, I can catch extraordinary moments of fun and laughter; and baby laughs do more for the soul than almost anything else on earth can.)
And then the sun came out. Spring is here.
While strolling Sam in seventy-degree weather, Buc and I talked about the limitations of our current living situation, and decided we will need to move into a house (preferably one-story) at the end of our year lease if we are not able to go back to Texas…especially if there is a new baby on the way. I don’t know how my knee and I could handle a newborn and a toddler in our apartment with all its steps.
There is the regret of not visiting St. Louis before we rented this apartment, but there is the peace that we are here for this year for a reason. Maybe it’s so Buc and I can focus on our marriage, and not yard work, this year. Maybe it’s just to hear the birds singing off our balcony. Whatever the reason, I’m okay with this situation. It’s weird, and it’s uncertain, but it’s good.
Almost as soon as we moved to St. Louis, I started having what Buc and I dubbed as “eating emergencies.” I’d be going about my day fine, when suddenly a beast inside me would rear its ugly head and demand, “Feed me!” I became irritable at Buc and said words I seriously regretted and had to apologize for—all from hunger.
So now, in addition to a baby who was transitioning to all solids, I had another reason to reevaluate my diet: Apparently, I was “starving myself.” I concluded that, for my marriage’s sake, I better make a change.
If I wanted the “eating emergencies” and “food fights” with my husband to stop, I needed to stop trying to fend off my afternoon hunger with coffee (which was a great weight loss help in the past), and eat instead. As I listened to my body, I discovered that it really was food my body craved, not coffee, even though I love coffee! (A little less caffeine sure wouldn’t hurt my raging emotions either.) I needed to cook more satisfying meals, which I addressed in my last post; and I also needed to have some satisfying snacks on hand.
But the idea of adding more snacks to my diet unnerved me. I was scared of returning to habits that had put fifty extra pounds on my body in the first place. With all this self- and diet-evaluation, I realized that it was my poor choices during pregnancy that had packed on those fifty pounds. Lots of carbs, white flour, starchy things, sugary things. Bagels, muffins, pizza: these were what I craved most, and what I allowed myself to eat because, hello, I was starving for nine months!
Help for the Hungry (and Unhealthy)
Good thing that during our move to St. Louis I read Eve O. Schaub’s memoir, Year of No Sugar, in which the author and her family go on a yearlong sugar strike (with a few exceptions). Schaub’s conclusions after her yearlong project struck a chord with me. While I didn’t plan to attempt cutting out all sugar (an almost impossible task), she did convince me to cut down on my overall intake.
Two things I am doing as a result of my heightened sugar awareness:
Limiting my sweets intake to about twice a week, as opposed to allowing myself to nibble on junk food every day
Trying recipes for muffins, cookies, and cakes that don’t contain sugar (incidentally, these recipes also switch out refined flour for healthier options like whole wheat flour, wheat germ, nuts, and oats)
I’ve been implementing these changes for one month, and you know what? I don’t really miss my sweets. And I feel lighter, fuller, and more satisfied.
Specifically What I’m Doing to Get Fuller and Healthier (and Lose Weight in the Process)
Let me flesh this out a bit more, in case you want to tweak your diet, too: I used to eat something chocolate or sugary almost every day—a few candies, a piece of frozen Sara Lee cake, or an iced coffee from Mcdonalds (I especially loved my iced coffees, but I finally admitted to myself they were full of sugar, and majorly preventing weight loss).
Now I am skipping those choices almost every day but baking one healthy thing a week—like oat cookies, pumpkin muffins, or even Sam’s first birthday “cake”—to eat in place of my junk, or to eat for my snacks.
I’m not into finding obscure sugar substitutes like seasoned baker Eve Schaub. But happily, as I perused recipes to feed one-year-old Sam, I found a bunch of no-sugar recipes in the parenting book What to Expect the First Year, in the “Best Odds Recipes” section. This collection is designed to keep kids away from sugar for as long as possible, but it also provided just what I needed for myself.
The recipes I’ve tried have no hard-to-find ingredients, but rely on staples like dates, raisins, apple juice, wheat germ, oats, and whole-wheat flour. I love that everything on the ingredient list is good for me, and good for Sam, and I have enjoyed “indulging” in cookies and cake for a morning snack, or even for breakfast. I genuinely feel nourished by these healthy treats, and with these becoming my usual fare, I don’t feel bad for having a sugar bomb of a treat once in awhile. On a happy side note, already I’m craving those sugar bombs less and less, and finding that I am satisfied with a much smaller serving of sugar than I used to be (say two Hershey’s kisses instead of a piece of chocolate cake).
So far I feel great with these changes, and I plan to continue as long as I have the time to make this “bake-ahead” food. Indeed, baking my snacks ahead of time is key, so that whenever I have a food emergency, I also have a quick and healthy solution.
If you find yourself in the same desperate and ravenous situation I was, and if you want to lose some weight, I am convinced that one of the best things you can do for yourself (and possibly your relationships) is to get your hands on some sugarless recipes, use them, and then stock your fridge and freezer with these healthy, hunger-stopping treats. Your spouse, and your waistline, will thank you.
Epilogue: Thanks to the diet changes discussed here and in my last post (and probably thanks to all the extra flights of stairs in our new home, the busyness of unpacking, and a mobile baby), I dropped five pounds within the first month of living in St. Louis. And now I only have four more to go!