Tortuous: full of twists and turns; which is a REALLY great way to describe my twenties. Birthdays are always a super reflective time for me, and this one is no different. Turning twenty-nine, how did that happen? I remember turning twenty-SEVEN like it was yesterday; and feeling like I had all the time in the world to turn (heaven forbid) THIRTY. Well, time is flying by perhaps quicker than ever, and I have one year left in my twenties. So, how have have the 'twenties' been?
I turned twenty-one just three months after saying "I do" to my sweet and loving husband. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn't have planned on marrying so young, but God writes the love story, amen? Some of my happiest memories are when we lived in our first apartment on Fourth Street in Old Louisville. We had the whole first floor and I remember thinking that two bedroom space was HUGE. With it's dark [and dingy] hardwoods, the bars over the windows [yes, for real], and the beautiful giant windows that overlooked the street. We had NO back yard, but the dogs adapted well and we went on walks almost daily around Central Park and St. James Court, which was also the first place my husband told me he loved me when we were dating. We were so poor. But every Thursday we managed to afford cheap Chinese takeout and watched Grey's Anatomy on the couch, surrounded by the comfort of lit candles and giant dogs; just happy. We remember a couple times needing to have our parents bail out us financially, but not once did they ever complain or give us a hard time for being so young and unprepared.
Around twenty-three I started to have a mild panic over the fact that I desperately wanted to be pregnant and have a baby, but for my whole life, had been in denial about that. I would cry when I had a period and when my friend's were getting pregnant and sweet Asa said, "You know you kinda have to come off the PILL for this to happen?" So I did. And five months later, Pierson was conceived. A baby at age twenty-four, and again at twenty-five (y'all know that was NOT planned), it felt kind of crazy to be done having kids in my mid twenties; still does actually. Sometimes I'm like, "Aw MAN! I could so have a third!" but at this point, that would a.) be a miracle and b.) I really believe God designed this plan just how it is. Unless He decides to surprise the heck out of us in the years to come with a dream of adopting or a miracle of conception, ha. (I wouldn't put it past Him!)
We bought our first house before Pierson came, and we've been here for six years. That too feels surreal that we've been home owners for so long, and that we were SO blessed by the one we chose. (I think it chose us though, in all honesty.) The walks we did around this park as we prayed to God for guidance and direction, and the kneeling in the front entryway, with the house entirely empty, asking for His protection and will with what would happen here. And look! We've brought TWO babies home to this house! We've painted and added some nice touches to the backyard, we've had a garden for years, and the kids live for swimming in giant kiddy pools in the summertime.
But it hasn't been all sunshine and roses, and there were some ROUGH awakenings in my twenties. Like when I started doubting my marriage and was turning to other people for validation in who I was. When I listened to the world telling me that if I wasn't happy, just quit, because it's all about me. When my body went through years of hormonal imbalances that then led to emotional, physical, and spiritual ones.
But all of those then negative and heart wrenching experiences led to some really amazing awakenings. Like the sun beaming down after a terrible (and long) storm, I began to see the shift in who I was becoming.
Marriage: It's not always smothered in butterflies and fireworks of romantic explosions. Every single day, you change as an individual. Your husband isn't who he was when he married you and you are not the same woman. The annoyances will change as time goes on; roles and expectations shift, and hey, let's just be real: what you once used to like in the bedroom, well maybe you won't anymore! A marriage takes work, a heck ton of communication, and choices, always, that should conclude with putting your spouses needs above yours. I've never heard anyone say that it's easy, because it's not. But marriage is the greatest blessing of my life and my husband will always come first.
Friendships: they come and go in seasons. I've realized (finally) that if a friendship isn't working; if it's not a mutual give and take, that's okay. Sometimes if it leaves, LET IT. My happiness doesn't depend on other people investing or not investing in me. Don't waste hours of life wondering what someone else is thinking (or not thinking) about you. There's an ebb and flow with friendships, and I'm holding tighter to the ones that matter. That being said, I believe in fighting for what and who you believe in. I learned wonders from the book Uninvited, and if you haven't yet read that, I really think you need to.
Self-Image: forever a give and take of giving myself grace. Our bodies are continuously changing. Our skin, muscle loss or gain, weight fluctuation, stretch marks, spider veins; LOTS of things, all the time. I've learned that my number one motivation is to be healthy so that hopefully, I can live a long and healthy life. I want to be able to watch my grandkids be born and play with them. Drinking lots of water is something I'm terrible at, but I'm trying. And working out is also something I've never consistently done until the last couple of years. Telling myself that I'm strong, because I am, is crucial. I never want my children to hear me verbally express dislike for myself and Asa and I refuse to say the words fat or big or ugly. I'm not thrilled with every inch of myself, but I leave those conversations for the privacy of Asa and I; not my son and daughter. I ran the furthest I've ran (7 miles) at twenty-eight. I don't know if I'll be able to continue running (I hope to) but regardless, I was completely shocked that I could do that and felt incredibly empowered. Twenty-eight was a GOOD year. [Update since I'm behind on posting this, I ran NINE miles at twenty-nine! Ha!! The day after my 29th birthday, I actually RAN nine miles without stopping. Isn't God awesome?!]
On love: I talked about marriage and friendships, but I learned a lot about love as a whole during my twenties. The biggest part, is that I AM LOVED. The word Beloved has become one of my very favorites and is near and dear to my heart [hence my Beloved Woman SERIES], but really and truly, I know that I am a very loved woman. As a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend; God is so good. And I know that He whispers to me daily, "My dear, you are MY beloved, and I created you to be JUST who you are." I am so thankful for this lesson and while I am still learning and definitely growing in resting in this love--it was here in my twenties that I have found so much peace.
Here's to a new year, y'all. Some of you reading may scoff (she's only 29??) and others of you are thinking, "oh goodness, I have SO much longer until I am that old!" Ha ha!! Life is weird. And funny. And good. And I love all of you. Thanks for celebrating another year of life with me. The night of my birthday, I plan on playing laser tag with my closest friends, and then ending the night w/ food and a campfire in our backyard. It's basically a 12-year old's birthday party, but hey, don't be jeally.
Thanks to my amazing photographer husband for taking these of the me and the kids. And thanks to one of my VERY best friends, Tim Burri, for my fabulous gold balloons!