It's the New Year. But Are You Still Stuck Waiting?

A superfit friend of mine climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last summer. After her trip, she came to our house for dinner. Chris and I had one million questions for her. How hard was it? How much additional training did she do? What was the best part? The worst?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is one of those things that sounds both awesome and terrible to me. I kind of want to do it and kind of really don’t.

She said the hardest part was not the physical difficulty, but, instead, how slowly you have to go. She’s used to fast, distance running and, here she was, going at a pace slow enough for the entire group - all of varied fitness levels - to stay together. It’s also important to go at a pace slow enough to let your body acclimate. The guides know what pace the group needs to be able to summit together.

On the last night - summit night! - you slow down even more. You take a rest step between each single step. There you are, just hours from the top, and the pace decreases! She said she cried privately behind her goggles as the pace slowed - the mental challenge far outweighing the physical.

I thought of my friend’s experience as the new year turned. By now, you’ve read enough about goal setting and having an intentional year and deciding where you want to be 365 days from now. These are all good things to do. We have our goals over here, for sure. I have high hopes for what 2019 could mean for our family.

But I’m reminding myself that sometimes life is meant to be lived more like her Kilimanjaro climb than it is a race. There are things to run hard and fast at, absolutely. But there are certain seasons - the waiting periods - that we can’t muscle through. You can’t make your body create a baby by goal setting. You can’t will yourself to be married through checklists. You can’t magically be in the future you’re yearning for with a new planner or more organized home.

We can just take the next best step right now - one foot in front of the other. And sometimes, when we’re so close to the summit, the pace might slow. The rest steps may come in the form of a heartbreaking miscarriage, a horrible breakup, a lost job or home. I don’t say this to make them sound trite or small, but, instead, to remind you that nothing is wasted. The Lord makes good out of even the deepest pain. Each one will be used in your life. Just like my friend’s rest steps were required to make it to the summit - and beyond - so these things will be needed to propel you to the future meant for you.

A friend of mine had a miscarriage before she had her last baby. I asked her about it and held back tears as she talked about mourning the precious life. Then she told me that, although it still hurts, she knows she’d never have the baby she has now if she’d held the other one in her arms. And I wouldn’t change anything about my life if it means I get to have Millie now, she told me with tears in her eyes.

I laid on the floor with McCoy recently and thought about the heartache Chris and I both experienced before him. The journeys we each walked - the good, the bad, the beautiful - every, single step - led us to him. I wouldn’t change anything - not the tears we cried, the heartbreak we experienced, the sometimes far-too-slow pace it took for us to get to him. Because each one led us here.

So make your goals, friends. Have high hopes for this year. Hard work will not be wasted. But while you go hard at those goals, trust in His timing, His pace. Allow yourself to rest in the goodness of His grace each day, believing that your time is coming.

Sending you love and solidarity this year.

Do You Feel Behind on Life?

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be like my older sisters. They're fun and kind and never made me feel like the uncool tagalong. They even let me wear their clothes when they were in high school and I was nine, never mind the difference in our sizes. 

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By second semester of senior year of college, I was ready to graduate; I felt like I had overcooked. Chris and I have talked a lot about why I was so eager to join the real world. Even though I loved college and my friends, seeing my sisters' adult lives left me chomping at the bit to get on with things. They made adulthood look good and I wanted to join them in that season. 

Years later, my sister, Courtney, told me she was pregnant with her fifth and final babe. I struggled with a little bit of jealousy, but, what I felt even more strongly was a mourning period. I always thought we'd have the chance to be pregnant together someday and, since I wasn't married at the time, I knew this dream was coming to an end. My sisters shared multiple pregnancies and their babies' newborn years. I felt like I did when I was nine: I wanted in on this. But borrowing their clothes wouldn't cut it this time. Although, for the record, I do still peruse their closets.

photo by  Natalie Puls

photo by Natalie Puls

I realized recently, as I watched them send their babes off to school again this fall, that there is a part of me that always believed I'd catch up with them. As I snuggled McCoy and scrolled through their precious first day photos, it hit me that this was not the case. Not because I'm behind or doing something wrong, but because I'm not supposed to. 

To be clear, I'm not supposed to catch them, but not just because they're older than me. It's because we're walking our own paths at our own paces. We are each living the lives that were designed for us. They got married much younger than I did and had babies in their 20s. Chris and I got married just a few months before my 30th birthday.

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But number crunching doesn't do us any good - because that's not what learning to enjoy and embrace our lives is about. 

It can be just as easy to compare ourselves to younger siblings and friends. During my less-than-settled seasons, I've even found myself comparing my life to bloggers: she met her husband at 26 and started a family at 28 and had this business by 31!? What am I doing wrong?

I'm learning these days that if comparison is the thief of joy, the belief that we can catch one another is its mighty sidekick. Thinking we are "behind" in life only perpetuates an unnecessary cycle of competition and comparison.

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Last fall, I had the chance to be pregnant with my sister, Ashley, and my sister-in-law, Abbey. Now we're sharing these sweet baby days, navigating each new phase together. I never dreamed I'd get to share these seasons with them.

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The whole experience has reminded me of one of life's greatest truths: we never know how much good is coming down the road. But if we can learn to trust that our time is coming, we can sink into the present much more easily. 

So here's to today and tomorrow, the slow days and the fast ones, the abundant and the sparse. And to every season in between. May you rest in the joy and uniqueness of each season.