Enough

I haven’t been writing…

I’ve blamed it on time, or the lack thereof, and that is partly true. However, I also think it is because of pressure.

Whenever I do something, I want to do it well or not do it at all. I guess last year I read one too many books, articles, and blog posts about blogging, and all of a sudden – there were too many rules. It was too complicated.

Well, I’m over it. I miss reflective writing and sharing.

Our lives have been pretty tiring and challenging lately. Peter started a new job in our town, and it’s been going well, but it’s still a transition and a change. All the while, I was going through the first trimester, which I guess some have called the “worst trimester.” I certainly hope that is true. I’m 14 weeks and 3 days right now, so I am really hoping that the second trimester is the light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Even though I’ve been pretty sick (with morning sickness that lasts all day), I know it could have been much worse, so I feel guilty for all the complaining that I have done. Most days, my job has been all that I could (barely) handle, and I have spent my evenings, nights, and weekends being anything but productive. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything, and I basically went into a late winter hibernation, especially through February. My energy is finally coming back, and I felt really good on Friday and most of the day on Saturday until I accidentally got hungry before supper. (Maybe it’s a boy since I get super hungry every three or four hours?!?)

Even my faith has suffered through the last couple of months. Most days have slipped by in survival mode, and I have forgotten or avoided the efforts and delights of fellowship, prayer, and reading Scripture.

Just this morning I was reading encouragement from a sweet friend, and I felt my soul breathe out, “God, I’m sorry, but I just have nothing else to give.”

And I felt like He told me, “It’s enough.”

I don’t want to be lazy or make excuses, but I am thankful that this is a temporary season, and God’s love for me and approval of me have not changed because of my lacking productivity. I’m thankful He is constant.

It’s funny to me now, but a week before we found out we are expecting, I took some time to journal out a deeply honest prayer about my unfulfilled desire to be a mom. We hadn’t been trying for long yet, but I had already begun to worry that it would never happen for us. Then I realized that most of my major life decisions for the last 15 years have revolved around my desire to be a wife and mother. It affected my education and career choices, shaped my dreams of life here with Peter, and even became the motivating vision for buying this house. All I had ever pictured for my adult life was to serve the Lord in my marriage and by raising children to know Him. If that wasn’t what my life and faith would look like, then what? I felt aimless.

I wonder if God laughs at us sometimes when He can see the big picture and we can’t. Little did I know, even as I was writing out these questions, He was forming life inside of me. It’s amazing.

I guess my heart hasn’t changed very much in the last three years, because He brought me to similar questions and prayers right before I met Peter. A few months before we met, I remember having a very eye-opening conversation after Bible study with my friend Katie in which I realized and tried to explain that nothing in my life felt like it would be fulfilling if I never got married. I reached a point where I was willing to give it all away – my job, my education, my goals, etc. – to share my life with someone. Maybe God had to bring me to that place of willing surrender because He knew that I was really going to give up those things to follow Him to a man in South Dakota.

So now this feels very similar. God works in my heart first before He changes my circumstances. Perhaps I needed to realize that this is not about my plans, my timing, or my comparison with others. Instead, it’s about serving Him by raising and teaching a child (or children) to know, follow, and love Him.

I still don’t feel “ready,” but I’m doing it one day at a time. Even though it looks different than my life and faith before, I’m already serving Him through motherhood.

And I’m thankful that’s enough for now.

Home Is Where My People Are

For possibly the first time since I moved to this frozen tundra, today both Alabama and South Dakota received snow…

The ironic part? My home in Alabama got significantly more.

The sad part? While my friends, family, and former coworkers got a much-deserved day off that will not have to be made up, I still had to go to work. Boo…

Home has really been on my mind and heart lately. Perhaps it’s because of the doldrums of winter. Perhaps it’s because of sickness and exhaustion that come along with the first trimester. (Hopefully you’ve heard, we’re expecting our first baby September 19th!) Regardless of the reason, I find myself prowling on Facebook for familiar pictures and updates, and I’ve even resorted to checking websites for the local news in Birmingham pretty frequently. (By the way, that is really more depressing than comforting.)

Enter this book.

Home

Have you ever read a book that just felt like summer? I am telling you, this kept me company on a few very cold winter nights and really warmed my heart. I loved the storytelling, the familiarity of southern culture, and the wisdom and humor scattered throughout.

I’ve been following Sophie Hudson’s blog for a while now, so I knew that she would be sharing stories about growing up in Mississippi and eventually moving to Birmingham, Alabama. (By the way – stalker alert – we went to the same church for awhile! She still goes there. I moved a thousand miles away. You know the story.) What I didn’t know was that she would begin teaching me things right from the start in Chapter 1.

Home 2

I loved feeling encouraged that “home” is more about people than a place, and she reminded me that it really is possible to have two homes. Loving South Dakota and my life here does not mean that I have turned my back on my home in Alabama. However, missing my home in Alabama does not mean that I am dissatisfied or unhappy with my home here. I’m blessed to have both.

I really recommend this book as an easy and enjoyable read that will also encourage you at the same time. Get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the Tyndale publishing company. You can also ask for it in your local Christian book store.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review. I also retrieved the images in this post from the book’s website.

A Little More Like Home…

Winter is not even here yet, and I am already starting to struggle with the long days. Waking up before the sun is not my spiritual gift, and pulling into my driveway, exhausted, as the dark returns can feel defeating day after day. The weather hasn’t been awful yet, so I am thankful. However, two weeks off from school and a week in Alabama will hopefully provide refreshment to cheer up my spirit.

Until then, there is this:

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These friends are an answer to prayer for which I can never express enough thanks.

We laugh and cry and pray… We run after Jesus, all wanting to go deeper in His Word – to know and love Him more, and to become more like Him… We figure out marriage and home-owning… We rock a couple of babies (and hopefully there will be more babies to rock as time goes on!)… We eat together often, and next weekend some of us will spend a day baking treats and exchanging gifts…

I always feel encouraged and stronger when we have been together…

They help South Dakota feel more like home.

We Met Online: Last Post in the Series

In the last post, I shared about our decision to get married and the long-distance logistics that led us to set a wedding date before Peter actually bought a ring and proposed. In fact, we booked the church and I bought a dress first too!

Our proposal story has already been posted here.

Then I moved to South Dakota, and I officially started this blog on June 17, 2013 with a post called The Beginning.

That means we have basically made it to the end of this story.

March-June flew by pretty quickly in a whirlwind of resigning from my job, packing up my classroom and my personal things, saying lots of goodbyes, and wedding planning… Peter and I began to learn about give and take as we made decisions for the wedding. I gave him a church wedding, but I worked extremely hard to keep it simple and put my own spin on it. I used a picture of a tablescape from Pinterest to inspire my colors, and I ran with it from there…

Wedding details

I found the picture of the table setting on Pinterest, and I have no idea who should receive credit for it. It inspired our colors. :)

Weddings are a lot of work… I mean, they are if you decide to be the bride, planner, florist, caterer, decorator, etc., etc., etc. I think I’m still tired and glad all of the decisions and work are done, but I’m thankful when I look back on our day. I remember feeling like it was going by too quickly. I didn’t feel like I imagined a bride would feel. I kind of felt like a little girl playing dress up.

Our wedding

We tried to design our ceremony, not to point to us, but to point to the Lord and to be a time of thanksgiving, celebration, and worship. Even though this is the end of what we call “our story,” it was really just the beginning of our commitment to each other. We desire to love each other well and to honor, love, and serve the Lord together. I can’t think of a better way to end this series than with our vows. I heard them at a friend’s wedding and discovered they had been written by my pastor and edited just a bit. We didn’t change a thing. Today, they hang on our living room wall beneath our wedding photo to remind us of the story that God is still writing.

I, Peter, take you, Jamey, to be my wife.
I commit to love you as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25).
I will lead you by serving you, and serve you by leading you (Mk. 10:45).
I will encourage you to treasure Christ above everything else in this world (Phil. 3:1-10).
I will forgive you as Christ has forgiven me (Matthew 6:9-15).
I will care for you with humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12-17).
I will please you by putting your interests above my own (Phil. 2:1-11).
I will honor you with my purity (Hebrews 13:4).
I will join with you in the global mission God has entrusted to us (Ps. 67; Matt. 28:18-20).
I will sacrifice my life for your sake (1 John 3:16-18).
I will cherish you as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-8).
And by the grace of God, I will be faithful to this covenant as long as we both shall live (Gen. 2:22-24).

I, Jamey, take you, Peter, to be my husband.
I commit to love you as the church loves Christ (Eph. 5:23).
I will trust you by submitting to you (Eph. 5:24).
I will encourage you to treasure Christ above everything else in this world (Phil. 3:1-10).
I will forgive you as Christ has forgiven me (Matthew 6:9-15).
I will care for you with humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12-17).
I will please you by putting your interests above my own (Phil. 2:1-11).
I will honor you with my purity (Hebrews 13:4).
I will join with you in the global mission God has entrusted to us (Ps. 67; Matt. 28:18-20).
I will sacrifice my life for your sake (1 John 3:16-18).
I will cherish you as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-8).
And by the grace of God, I will be faithful to this covenant as long as we both shall live (Gen. 2:22-24).

We Met Online: Wednesday Series at www.themiddleoflife.com

This is the eighteenth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!

We Met Online: Kinda-Sorta but Not Really Engaged

Can you believe it?!? We’ve almost made it to the end of the story… However, since these stories are leading toward my move to South Dakota and our marriage, perhaps we’ve almost made it to the beginning? Haha…

Quick recap: We met online. Emailed. Talked on the phone. Met in person with our moms. Talked on the phone. Visited each other. Talked on the phone. Chose to love. Talked on the phone. And decided to get married.

In fact, it was during my visit to South Dakota in March of 2013 when we officially started talking about a date for the wedding.

In comparison with the others, this trip really wasn’t one of our most adventurous. Because we lived so far away from each other, our dating relationship centered largely around vacations. This visit was probably our first that looked even similar to real life. Though I had an entire week off from school, Peter had to work. There were no holidays or large family gatherings. We didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing. (I’m pretty sure my first trip to the mall in Yankton doesn’t count as sight-seeing because there are only about three stores and a movie theater there. However, we did splurge and sit for a few minutes in the vibrating massage chairs right in the middle of the mall as the older people walked laps around us. I also may or may not have tried on something round and sparkly…)

Yankton

I’m not sure if we were more motivated to discuss marriage because of emotion or practicality. Each goodbye was getting harder, and the breaks between our visits were feeling more difficult. I was even toying around with the idea of moving to South Dakota whether or not we were engaged. I wondered if we were wise to make such a monumental commitment to each other before living in the same place and practicing some consistency. Regardless, I knew summer was approaching and I would need to make a decision about a job very soon. We had vaguely discussed a holiday wedding around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I knew
1) I couldn’t get married on the same day as the Iron Bowl football game and
2) It felt silly to be a teacher and not take advantage of summer for planning and preparation.

Because I wanted a summer wedding, I basically told him that I wanted to get married that summer or wait a year. He really didn’t want to wait that long, so we needed to pick up the pace. I think that a sense of urgency hit home with Peter when I clued him in to some of the timelines necessary for planning a wedding. I was concerned that he was going to want to propose in June and get married in July! (Now that I think about it, this was an ironic concern since he was the one who wanted a wedding and I wanted to elope or go to the courthouse… Ha!)

When we began to think about dates, we started asking about a wedding in Alabama on July 27th because that was the day we spent together with our moms in the Black Hills when we met for the first time in person. Unfortunately, that was the same day that Peter’s cousin had already planned a South Dakota reception for his California wedding. This would mean that Peter’s uncle would not be able to officiate our wedding. We were also having a hard time working around Peter’s sisters’ busy schedules in New Mexico and Arkansas. It just wasn’t coming together smoothly.

Yet, we believed that God had brought us together and blessed us. I chose this trip as the perfect opportunity to share my favorite part of our story with Peter for the first time. I remember sitting side-by-side, placing my left hand on his back, and saying, “Peter, He knows your name.”

That was the crucial detail of confirmation. We didn’t choose to get married all because the distance became too complicated or because I needed to know what to do with my job. It wasn’t even because we were so googly-eyed or wanting to shorten the time to protect our physical purity.

We chose to get married because we believed it was God’s will for our lives.

“Falling in love” with Peter wasn’t only about feeling butterflies in my stomach or getting swept up in a romantic fairy tale. It was so natural. We fit together. We had peace. Little by little, we began to grow together. We were able to see how our similarities and differences showed God’s detailed design of balance, love, and delight. It truly didn’t take very long to just begin to feel like he was home for me. It was like he had been in my life all along.

That part still amazes me… I was that hopeless romantic Christian girl who looked for her husband at every youth group function, Christian camp, and coed Bible study. All of a sudden, I found him and it was the real thing. Three years ago today, we were strangers. Now we are husband and wife under a marriage covenant. That’s why I chose “Great is Thy Faithfulness” for his mom and sisters to sing at our wedding. I think it should be the theme song of our lives.

When I boarded the plane at the end of the week and turned my phone off, texts were flying to debate various summer dates. Little did I know, Peter also used this perfect opportunity as I was flying from Sioux Falls to Chicago to call my mom and get the ball rolling for his plans to fly down to propose. Then my mom had to LIE TO MY FACE for six weeks to keep the secret and help me wait. Who knew she was such a good actress? I hope she only uses this power for good and not for evil.

I’m glad she was able to see that we’re a really great match!

Silly

We Met Online: Wednesday Series at www.themiddleoflife.com

This is the seventeenth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!

We Met Online: Valentine-ish

When I returned to Alabama after Christmas break, Peter and I began to go through one of the toughest points in our dating relationship. At that time, the Lord had opened the door for me to begin taking classes for a PhD in Early Childhood Education, so I was teaching full-time, taking graduate level classes in Statistics and Research, working on a tedious teaching thing called National Boards, and trying to maintain a relationship from a thousand miles away.

It didn’t help that after my Christmas visit, we had no concrete plans for our next trip. As opposed to the Great White North which apparently has no spring break because spring doesn’t come until mid-May, Alabama gets a full week off of school in March. It was obvious that I would fly back to South Dakota at that point, but two and a half months of winter can wear on the soul and the heart.

I thought I could be strong and patient, but that didn’t really happen. On February 3rd, I booked a flight from Huntsville to Omaha, Nebraska for February 15th-18th. Omaha is only about two and a half hours away, and flights are occasionally cheaper than into Sioux Falls. However, no one warned me that winter isn’t the best season to ask someone to drive a couple of hours away at night to pick you up at the airport.

Peter had just gotten his new Ford Fusion, and I was already on the ground at the airport as he got into Omaha. As he started to get into the city, the weather changed rapidly, and he began to see cars sliding on ice all over the interstate. I did my best to wait patiently while he navigated the city that is only somewhat familiar to him. I felt guilty for putting him in danger, and I began worrying about our drive back north if he ever made it safely to pick me up. I’m sure relief washed over my face when I saw him walk into the airport holding flowers and a sign that he had drawn for me with a cartoon sketch of a boy and a girl talking long-distance through cans attached with a string.

Even though it had been a long six-ish weeks since we had seen each other, I instantly felt better as soon as we were together. I think this time was really when we started to feel the strain of the distance. We were 100% tired of our phones. It was so good to reconnect and rediscover our peace and the ways we calmed each other. We still deal with this periodically when we are too busy to spend quality time together.

We need each other. :)

Here’s a picture with the flowers he got me for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Day

After he picked me up, we avoided the interstate until we got out of that area, so we took the scenic route through the dark. I was so relieved that Peter is accustomed to winter driving. Just ask him – I tend to panic about it. If I had it my way, I would stay home any time it snowed if I didn’t have a crazy thing called a job. I definitely have high hopes of becoming a “snowbird” someday!

The weekend was a quick blur of cold weather, but the highlight was most definitely a trip to Mitchell, South Dakota to see a state icon: THE CORN PALACE!

Just call me Vanna White!

Corn Palace

Corn Palace

This building is a large venue, and all I can remember is that Peter says they host basketball games inside. The special part is the outside which is decorated each year with murals made of corn. We definitely don’t have that in Alabama!

When Peter took me back to Omaha to fly home on Monday, I remember stopping in Sioux City, Iowa for Chick-Fil-A. It was the perfect send-off and would become one of my favorite places in just a matter of months. It’s kind of shocking to realize that we said another goodbye on Monday, February 18th, got engaged May 4th, I moved up in early June, and we were married by the end of August.

When you know, you know, right?!?

We Met Online: Wednesday Series at www.themiddleoflife.com

This is the sixteenth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!

Embracing Marriage: Remember

When it comes to marriage, after recently celebrating our one-year anniversary, my husband and I are babies. In fact, because we met only two years and four months ago, we haven’t even known each other very long. When people ask about our anniversary, I keep exclaiming with a fist-pump and a smile on my face, “We made it!”

Most days, we feel pretty new at everything in our lives. For me it’s a new state, new region, new climate, new job… For both of us it’s a new church, new role as homeowners, new family, new friends, new joys, and new challenges.

That’s a lot of NEW.

Our anniversary weekend was much busier than we might have otherwise chosen, as many events and opportunities piled up into a two-day period. All within about 48 hours, we had to choose between things like a wedding and reception, a free multi-day Christian music festival, visiting with family who had come from out of town, watching the opening day of college football season, going with family to the state fair, AND celebrating our anniversary. It’s like we had too many blessings to try to receive and enjoy in such a short period of time.

And let’s just say I don’t always handle stress, pressure, and over-loaded schedules with a calm sense of grace.

However, my favorite moment of the entire weekend came unexpectedly on Sunday – our anniversary. On a random trip to Walmart that was not originally scheduled in our plan for the weekend, my husband surprised me by pulling off at a state park where we had gone on one of our first dates. We’ve been there a few times together over the last couple of years, hiking to the top of a large hill to look out over the landscape. Bringing our Bibles to share a devotion together. Taking our dog for a little adventure and exercise. This beautiful site holds special meaning for me in particular because it was on our first visit there, holding his hand and walking back down the path to return to the car, that I felt the Lord show His love for and intimate knowledge and understanding of me in His detailed design and plan for bringing us together.

This time on our anniversary, we didn’t climb to the top. Instead, we remained in the car, looking at this place from a distance. I don’t know if he planned it ahead of time or felt inspired in the moment, but my husband used that place to challenge me to remember our year together.

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Today I’m writing over at Embracing Marriage… CLICK HERE to read the rest!