There is something about pregnancy that makes me hyper-aware of the passage of time. With my belly growing by the day, and the weekly reminders from my various pregnancy apps telling me how big these babies are getting and how soon they will be here, it’s impossible to acknowledge that we are catapulting our way through 2019.
As we shed the final layers of spring, and our family transitions into a new season with the buying of a house and preparing for the twins’ arrival, it has been vital for me to spend intentional time being in the present. Enjoying this moment, savoring its goodness, and reflecting on what it has to teach me. The lessons have been abundant this month!
1. Information is not transformation.
I can’t recall where I heard this nugget this month, but the message has remained with me. I’m a huge consumer of information (according to the Strengths Finder test, “Input” is my top strength), but I often forget to apply what I take in. It’s important for me to allow knowledge to move from my head to my heart, and that requires intentionality, regular reflection, and a receptiveness to feedback and change.
2. Committing to being for my marriage is not the same thing as committing to being for my spouse.
Luke and I have been going through the re|engage Marriage Enrichment Program (it’s incredible, by the way) and a recent chapter focused on the importance of commitment in marriage. Commitment is not an area where Luke and I struggle: we are both highly committed (read: stubborn) to whatever we set our minds to, and that includes our marriage. However, the material helped me realize that I was approaching our relationship like a contract rather than a covenant. I was committed to being married to Luke, but not necessarily to investing in the growth and betterment of our marriage. Part of being in a covenant relationship requires me to be FOR Luke, pouring myself into loving and serving him, acting as his biggest advocate and cheerleader, and remembering that we are team members for life. This is what truly committing to my marriage should look like.
3. The pediatric eye doctor is a little bit too fun.
Charleston has had a few new styes show up on his eyes in the last month, so we’ve been reminding him to wash his hands, avoid rubbing his eyes, and keep his face away from the dog’s fur to help keep the styes at bay. I was shocked when Charleston responded that he wanted to get more styes. When I reminded him of how he had to have surgery last year to have his styes removed, he said that he hoped to get more styes so that he could go back and see the eye doctor and play with her toys. Yikes! To be fair, his eye doctor does have a very exciting office. I understand that medical professionals create fun office environments for children to take the sting out of potentially frightening doctor visits, but I’m wondering if all the games and toys and “fun” might be taking things too far. I’m glad Charleston isn’t afraid of going to the eye doctor, but I don’t want him jeopardizing his own health for the chance to go back.
4. It’s okay to ask God for extra blessings.
As I mentioned in our gender reveal post, from the time I learned we were having twins, I began praying for a boy and a girl. I felt guilty praying for something so superficial when God had already blessed us so richly. How could I ask for more than healthy babies? His answer of “yes” reminded me that there is nothing wrong or sinful about asking God for the things that I want—even small, seemingly insignificant things. Of course I shouldn’t make demands of God, or allow my faith to be dependent on the outcome of my prayers, but throughout this year God has shown me that He wants me to bring all of my requests to Him, and He delights in satisfying them.
5. I tend to anticipate that things won’t work out.
This is something that’s come up for me countless times this month. I first noticed this thought pattern in relation to our babies’ genders: I had assumed that because I wanted to have a boy and a girl, I must be carrying either two boys or two girls. In my mind, there was no way that my desire could become reality. (I also felt this way about becoming pregnant, about the viability of our babies during the first trimester, and about closing on our house.) This pessimistic tendency plays out in small ways too: I assume that my groceries won’t all fit in the trunk of my car, or that I’m not going to like the outfit I’m about to try on, or my plans for a vacation won’t pan out. I’m generally not a big worrier, I don’t constantly plan for worst case scenarios, and I don’t like to think of myself as a glass-half-empty type of girl. But whether just a defense against disappointment, or as a predisposition towards practicality, when it comes to specific outcomes I have a hard time expecting the best. I don’t like this about myself and recognize it as an area for personal and spiritual growth. . . I’m just not quite sure what that will look like, or where to begin.
6. Our dog is deathly afraid of balloons.
I bought a large bouquet of balloons to use in our gender reveal pictures, and I have never seen Arlo so scared as when he watched me walk through the front door with that bouquet. He spent the rest of the day whimpering, shaking, and cowering in a corner to get as far from those balloons as he could get. (In the picture below, you can see him silently pleading with me to rescue him from the balloon monster!) It would have been hilarious if I hadn’t felt so bad for the poor pup. We’ve decided that, once the babies arrive, all we need to do to keep Arlo away from them is tie a balloon to their wrists!
7. Social media is an excellent communication tool, but it should not be used as a connection tool.
In this podcast discussion of friendship, the host mentioned learning this lesson in a personal conversation with Brené Brown. I couldn’t agree more! In this age of constant scrolling, likes, and DMs, it’s easy to feel close to those whose pictures fill our feeds. But social media cannot be a replacement for authentic, in-person relationship. There’s nothing wrong with using Facebook, Instagram, or even blogs to share snapshots of our lives with other people, but that is what they are: snapshots that communicate aspects of our lives but do not connect us with those who are seeing them.
8. Many of my favorite songs are lifted directly from the book of Psalms.
I’ve enjoyed reading through Psalms as part of my annual Bible reading plan, and have been amazed by how many of these psalms are familiar to me because they are lyrics from beloved worship songs. It’s been incredible to “sing” my way through the book of Psalms, and think of the generations of believers who have done the same to tunes of their own.
9. Our move taught me quite a bit about myself and also the moving process itself; here are a few takeaways:
- My OCD makes moving extra difficult. Chaos, disorder, and a lack of routine are my biggest OCD triggers and all of them are a natural part of a move—even a local one. The last couple of weeks have been difficult as my perfectionism and obsessive tendencies cause me to question every packing and unpacking decision. Each task takes me about five times longer than it needs to, either because I’m constantly redoing my work or have become frozen by decision fatigue.
- Pregnancy also makes moving very difficult. I’m on strict doctor’s orders to take things easy and not do any heavy lifting—which is not exactly conducive to packing up one house and setting up another. This move has been a lesson in patience and humility as I’ve had to rely on others to help me get boxes where they need to go, and to take things much more slowly than I would like.
- I’ve always taken my healthy back for granted. As luck would have it, I threw out my back the day before we began packing up our house. I suppose it was a blessing in disguise, as it forced me to follow doctor’s orders against any heavy lifting, but I haven’t exactly relished the pain and lack of mobility I’ve experienced in the last few weeks. It’s true that you don’t appreciate what you’ve got ’til it’s gone!
- Finishing one room right away makes a huge difference in how I feel about life and in helping us feel more settled. As soon as we’d moved in, I focused on unpacking my kitchen and getting it to the “totally finished” stage. Completing this one room has helped me feel at peace about the rest of our house being in shambles. When I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I simply head to the kitchen to cook and dream of how wonderful it will be for the rest of our rooms to be finished as well.
10. Living in a new space is continuing to bring new lessons. In a little over one week living in our new home, these are some things our new house has taught me:
- Living “out in the country” requires some adjustments. This house is only about 20 minutes away from our last home, but we are now in a fairly remote area and the closest stores are all near our old house. For a girl who has spent her whole life within walking distance from the nearest grocery store, this is going to take some getting used to. Twice this past week, I accumulated two hours of drive time in a single day because I hadn’t planned my errands and appointments well. I’m learning to shuffle my schedule so that my daily activities are grouped and I’m not spending my whole life in the car.
- A one-story house is definitely the way to go! Though I would have been happy moving into another two-story house, Luke was adamant that our next house be a one-story, and now that we’re here, I can admit that he was right. The single-story floor plan is a breeze to navigate, and it’s been much easier to keep an eye on Charleston and Arlo from any room in the house. I know I’ll appreciate the lack of stairs even more when I’m further along in my pregnancy, and especially once the twins are mobile.
- You need to treat a glass cooktop before using it for the first time. I didn’t know this and damaged my stove the first time I used it. Thankfully I was able to use this polish to buffer out most of the scratches.
- Living in a brand new house brings a unique element of stress. I’ve never lived in a new house before, and though it’s wonderful, I find myself walking on eggshells in order to keep it looking pristine. I realize this isn’t possible, especially in a household with a dog and children, and I’m hoping that my anxiety over keeping everything perfect will wear off over time. In the meantime, I’m trying to appreciate the shiny surfaces and squeaky clean walls while acknowledging that they don’t need to stay that way forever.
I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman, the genius behind these What I Learned lists, to share what we have been learning this spring. I will forever be thankful to Emily for introducing me to this monthly practice that has transformed the way I view my life and my place in the world.
What have you learned this month?