“Celebration when your plan is working? Anyone can do that. But when you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it an epic, that’s when you start to learn what celebration is. When what you see in front of you is so far outside of what you dreamed, but you have the belief, the boldness, the courage to call it beautiful instead of calling it wrong, that’s celebration.
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life
This spring was interesting. It flew by, but I also feel like I’ve had some time to back away from some things and recharge. Garret and I have both been really busy at work, and I’ve worked late more often this semester than I have in a long time, probably ever. Work has been fast-paced, but other parts of our lives have been slow and full of waiting.
We’ve both put a ton of effort and time into being healthier, and we’ve lost a combined 80 lb, relatively quickly (6 months), and that has been amazingly fun to do together! We’ve also cooked a lot together, which is always a good time. Garret is now a master at roasting sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts (his favorite).
We haven’t had internet at home recently, and that’s one reason why I have taken a bit of a break from the photography business. I’ve been taking things as they come and spending more time on 1) this summer’s agenda – upgrading my gear and beginning to develop my brand, and 2) preparing for the fall, when I’ll shoot my first weddings as a lead.
Life has been full and interesting, in the mist of waiting. We love our home group (Bible study) friends and all of our friends here, and had a ton of fun with them this spring. I’ve been reading like crazy, just wanting to read ALL THE THINGS, all the time. I crammed so many plants in our two little 4×4 garden beds that they both look like jungles. The kale is taking over one, and the tomatoes and zucchini are swamping the other. (Except for the one zucchini plant already felled by squash borers; I’m trying to keep the others alive.) I killed all the plants in one small separate tub because I forgot to drill holes in it and then it rained. A lot. Hooray for rain, boo for my worst garden fail yet.
We’ve spent some months driving to DFW on weekends multiple times to see family, and then the next month we’ll try to stay in town, to stay on budget, spend time with friends, and catch up on laundry and chores. Our life has an interesting rhythm right now. I’m not sure what to make of this spring. I’m not sure where God is taking us. This past weekend we took a short, but super fun anniversary trip, and we took some time to do some dreaming and planning together. That was really sweet.
This spring has felt like ten things all at once – hopes, gaps, wishes, exhaustion, work, friendship, trust – I feel like I’m trying to wait with contentment, but also to plan with expectation and faith; stopping, but going; setting goals but also trusting God; resting, but working hard, too.
I caught up with an old friend, Taylor, recently, for the first time in a long time, and something she said has really stuck with me. We were talking about how our lives don’t have to follow the predetermined Official Life Schedule – graduated from college and married by 22, have your whole dang life figured out ASAP, own a house by 25, have kids by 27, get promotions and raises at work every year, etc. I think those things are fine and good(!), but – and this is just for me, personally – descriptive, not prescriptive, as usual – the weight with which the Official Life Schedule weighs in my mind sometimes is just insane. Un. Healthy. And also? Not of Christ. Boom.
Anyways, Taylor said that something she really wants to impart to young women she’s mentoring is that “There are a MILLION different ways to live your life!” That concept has been rattling around in my mind ever since and just resonates so deeply with me. The only thing that I HAVE to do is follow Jesus. I don’t have to feel beholden to the schedule. I don’t have to be disappointed in my own ability to control what happens when.
So, friend? You don’t have to marry right after college! Or you can! Or you don’t have to go to college! You can travel, you can write, you can be a personal trainer, you can work on Wall Street, you can be a stay-at-home parent, you can go overseas, you can stay in your home town, you can go to the big city – there is freedom in Christ! Our greatest call is to love the Lord your God with ALL you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The Gospel is bigger and more important than the Official Life Schedule, and there is a God who has crazier, more complicated, and more amazing plans for you than that.
“We sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way