Wait, what? I know. Just hear me out.
Looking back on life, there are moments in time that leave an indelible imprint. Some of us will forever remember where we were when news of the Challenger explosion took place, or when we first learned or September 11. For me, one of those moments came early the morning of February 21.
So this whole facade about being 28 is becoming harder to maintain because, well, in the past five months my darling young son outgrew me. I recall his well-baby visit last August and he had just hit 64.5 inches and now? He is at least 67 inches. Continue reading
Note that I didn’t say Sunday driver, although, I can’t lie and say as of late, that I don’t relate to those I used to tease for driving all over God’s creation at a blazing 35 mph on a Sunday.
The only difference between those folks and myself is that I still drive at least five over the posted speed limit. It’s my rebel heart. But it is, in fact, Sunday. And I did, in fact, go for a drive.
See, meteorologists all over the dang place are using words like blizzard, snowmageddon and snowpocalypse. Or, maybe just winter storm warning but, semantics. All I know is I’m getting this weird vibe I may be homebound for the next several days. And instead of being stuck in a crowded Meijer with all the crazies stocking up for said storm (dear people: you had all weekend), I stuck myself in my car and headed towards the lake.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I figured it had been cold enough for some ice to form but I know of some other crazies who swam in Gun Lake just a week or two ago. I applauded their bravery as I watched from my couch with a blanket wrapped around my already double-layered inclined-to-be-cold body. But at that point, there was certainly some water. And Lake Michigan is like, way bigger.
I decided to head towards Fennville because there’s this sweet little roadside park that typically offers complete solitude. And after having started a bible study recently that’s blowing my mind, I wanted the time and the water to myself.
It was quiet as I’d suspected. It was also noticeably cooler and I’m really thankful I grabbed my mittens getting out of the car. I took my time going down the just barely snow-covered ice stairs. As I got closer, I realized that the ice had formed much further out than I’d anticipated. For a minute, I figured I’d stop where the other footprints had. But I saw an opportunity to walk closer to where the water still moved and I’m not sure if it’s that rebel thing or just stupidity but I headed down the few additional stairs that typically end at a sandy beach.
I knew the walk wouldn’t be easy but I had my good boots and the mittens and knew that both would aid in getting me as close to the edge of the certainly frozen area so I could snap a few photos. I only had a few close calls and I might have laughed at my seemingly constant desire to push fate. But it was so, so worth it when I arrived to the top of a relatively steep ice formation to look out over the water in the process of freezing and where it met the rest of the lake.
While the visual was stunning, the sounds were what got me. It was so quiet given I was the only
dumb person in sight which allowed for me to hear the creaks and groans of the water just underneath the layer of ice, fighting the tension of freezing amidst the cold. And just before I left, the sun broke free from the clouds and gave my cheeks a reprieve from the bitter cold.
All of it was beautiful. After a tough week at work, some intense study and writing, and soul searching, it was exactly what my tender heart needed. It was my church today and I appreciate that God led me to that place to meet Him. I feel confident in saying if you ever need to meet God where He is, it’s easy if you go outside. Unless you’re in Michigan and it’s in the next several days … in that case, keep yourself safe and look out the window.
I am purposely being clear about the content in this post because well, it’s January now. I recognize that Christmas was #solastyear. And I also recognize that I just teased the village of Martin yesterday for the Christmas remnants that still flank the main street (but only in my Instagram story so it’s like it never happened).
I’m not gonna lie. I struggle with the holidays. It’s basically a month-long reminder of how life is different for us. There is grief and loneliness and a desire for solitude that doesn’t make sense in a time that should be joyful and filled to the brim with family and apparently, reindeer corn.
This year felt similar except that grief was exacerbated by the tragic loss of a young man in our community; a man I’d watched grow into a simply amazing husband and father. There was a celebration service held for him on a cold Friday night. His mom, dad, brother and sister spoke and I don’t think they realized how much they ministered to the many hurting hearts there. And our grief is a fraction of theirs. But my grieving heart felt held and reminded of the beauty in the brokenness. It might not feel like it’s supposed to be this way, but there is pure grace. And it’s all I need. (Scroll down to see how you can support the Pavlak family)
After that Friday night, I felt a shift in thinking about the remainder of the holiday season. Connor and I did our one of two shopping trips that weekend and we went to one of our favorite shops and wandered Eastown and it was perfect. Perfect because we weren’t at the mall (praise!) and because we were together shopping intentionally for those we love the most. Imperfect only because there is one store I heart big time and I swear every item with language on it in the store is inappropriate. And well, CJ is at an age where he starts laughing and I feel immediately shamed for bringing my child into such an establishment; however, they have amazing completely appropriate gifts! Such a battle.
The other big change this year was that our Christmas was on Christmas Eve. With schedule shifts in recent years, this was the first Christmas Day I wouldn’t see Connor and I was kind of a wreck about it. But, with the change in thinking, I decided that Christmas Eve was Christmas and that was that and we were going to enjoy the crap out of it. And you know what? We totally did.
I’ll also give a major shout-out to my family for being so flexible and willing to host Christmas on the Eve. And for the agreement we all had to avoid going insane with gifts this year. My parents asked that I donate to the Pavlak family’s education fund and that was the best type of gift to give. Otherwise, we all set limits and for the most part, stuck to them. I was so proud of us!
As usual, we read the story of Christ’s birth and ransacked the living room with wrapping paper. The one gift that was not.cool. was the stuffed dog my parents gave him. My mom and dad both acted like something big was going to happen so I got all excited and grabbed my camera and then we got a dog! A fake one. Lame.
We ate an amazing meal and got to do some church before CJ had to go for the night. As hard as Christmas Day (the real one) could have been, I just enjoyed it for what it was … an extra day off and more freaking food. #sweatpants
It all really just comes down to this choice we make and I’ve allowed myself to see the world from this place of pain for too many holiday seasons about where I should be and how far away I am from everyone else my age and … etc.; when, all the while, I do have so much to be joyful about. And again, I choose joy.
*As I’d mentioned, you can be a part of supporting the Pavlak family. Know that they are humble, sweet people who would only ever ask for your prayers, but if you are so inclined a fund has been set up to ease the burden on Kaitlyn and her two small children as they navigate life without Mitchel. https://www.gofundme.com/the-mitchel-pavlak-memorial-fund
It’s still fairly difficult for me to believe Connor’s in seventh grade. It’s also still somewhat new to see him playing sports where there are scores and wins/losses (gasp!); although he told me that throughout elementary sports, the kids all keep track. How’s that for messing with the whole ‘nobody wins or loses, kids. you all get a ribbon for participating!’ approach?
Fair warning in advance … these thoughts have been swirling in various iterations for the past week or so and I literally have no idea if they’ll come across in a way that’s helpful. But I hope they do. And if they don’t? Well, I hope you had a good game on in the background (UofM fan today!) and that you won’t have missed much.
Seniors are just my favorite. Young, old … I don’t care. I love them. But my biggest soft spot is for the high school types. There is something about seeing each unique personality bubble up to the surface during the course of our time. It makes my heart the happiest. Continue reading
Not just lyrics in the classic cover by Boyz II Men (the first group I ever saw in concert, by the way, at the Allegan County Fair. holler!), but also the theme of my Tuesday this week … and how it really is so hard. But to be clear, I don’t ever say goodbye. It’s so … final.
Let me back up.
I know it’s basically impossible by the numbers for me to have a niece (the youngest one) looking forward to graduating high school, but it’s true! I had the distinct honor and privilege to spend the morning with the very beautiful, smart, funny and mildly inappropriate (I don’t know where she gets it!) miss Lindsey a few weeks back to do some senior photos. Continue reading