Helllloooooo from the other side!
This is my husband, who is now a college grad!
He was in line beside the really tall guy, which made him easy to spot in the crowd of graduates. Cameron managed to last about 45 minutes seated, which just barely got us through the keynote speaker, before he got squirmy and awkward glances started coming my way from other attenders. So for the rest of the ceremony I chased Cameron up and down a large ramp and kept poking my head inside the door of the upstairs balcony to make sure that it wasn’t Jon’s turn yet.
When he walked across the stage I swear it was like watching him walk across dry land through the Red Sea. My husband did something that I don’t think many people could do. Three years of holding down a stressful full-time job while going to school at a public school that’s often compared to the Ivy League ones and still managing to be a good husband to the mother of a newborn, turned adventurous toddler. At times when I was having an especially hard day either physically or emotionally, Jon would skip a class to come home and help. He would say, “I want you to know that you always come first.” Then he would either trust that the Lord would help him make up what he missed in the class and/or he would stay up until 2 a.m. to finish the homework he could have completed earlier, but chose to have dinner and help put Cameron to bed instead.
During the last three years, our marriage has deepened a lot. For me, the most significant thing I’ve experienced is a deep confidence that my husband will do anything for me and for our family (except cook meth, because we watched Breaking Bad so we know how that would turn out). I wasn’t worried when I married him, but now I’ve seen in action that I do not ever need to doubt my husband’s commitment. I’m sure during difficult times in our future where I’m crazy angry or in a season of dryness I will look back on this time and be reminded of my husband’s love and intention toward me.
Something I’m really thankful for right now: The fact that these two are finally going to have some quality time together! And the timing is perfect because Cameron will turn two next week and he is in a stage where Jon can play with him and teach him how to do new things now. Cameron is an observer and when he witnesses someone doing something, he immediately wants to try it himself. I can already see him having a great work ethic as he grows up because when he’s trying to do something he is unwilling to stop until he’s succeeded. This is a trait that he can thank Jon’s DNA for.
Even though all this mushy stuff is very true, to be perfectly honest, our last week in San Luis Obispo was terrible. Jon had bronchitis and barely slept in order to finish his final papers and cram for finals, I came down with the flu, the only piece of “furniture” left in our apartment was an air mattress (flu+air mattress=the worst combination ever), Cameron was fussy and hardly napping because all his toys were gone and our apartment felt chaotic since we were living out of suitcases, and on top of all this we were trying to clean our apartment, get the last bits of our random stuff shoved into our cars and then run to the store to grab another on-the-go meal when we realized none of us had eaten yet that day. Plus there was a graduation party to be had – which would have been cancelled had two of my sweetest friends not taken over on the day of, done the shopping and basically made it all happen.
So the day before this lovely family photo was taken I had a 104 degree fever and each person in our family was pretty much falling apart. We all basically crawled to the finish line. Then the day we left San Luis Obispo I came down with Bronchitis and then spent my first two weeks in our new home on the couch and miserable. It’s been a month now and I’m still coughing frequently.
BUT, THANK YOU LORD that somehow my sicknesses subsided during graduation day and the day after while we went to church for the last time in SLO and then had the long-awaited graduation party.
Being on the other side is full of possibilities and also some unforeseen challenges. Something I didn’t expect was the frustration that can happen when two people who have been living one way suddenly get thrown into a new environment. We went from a lifestyle of constant pressure to one where we have three weeks just to hang out together before Jon began his new job. So lately we’ve experienced a lot of extremes; times of great closeness and also moments of intense anger because in so many ways we are having to get to know each other all over again. Change makes a Pitbull out of all of us.
However, something incredible we are both feeling is the freedom of possibilities opening up. For three years now, we have had to talk about things in a “someday” fashion. As in, “Someday we should talk more about that,” or “When you’re done with school we should…” But now, all of a sudden there’s the exciting sense that if God asked us to do something today, we could start doing it tomorrow! So new dreams are opening up and we finally get to make plans for the now.
Side note: The Rhyme Bible is such an awesome Bible for toddlers. Cam and I have made a habit of waking up in the morning and pouring milk for him and making coffee for me. Then we sit on the couch, each with our Bibles. For the first bit of time I remind him it’s quiet reading time, so he flips through the pages and looks at the pictures. Sometimes he will be done reading before I’m ready to move on so while I finish I’ll ask him to go get out his train set or blocks. On days where I wake up to a rough start, sometimes I grab my Dr. Sears book on discipline (The Discipline Book) to get some quick practical advice and just pray for the Holy Spirit’s help.
I’m sharing this because this is the only way I’ve discovered so far for me to carve out some focused time for the Lord in my day during this season. I know this won’t work when I have school aged kids so I’ll have to find a different method then, but for right now it’s a great way for me to have some nice wake up time in the morning and a way to introduce Cameron to the importance of finding a way to begin the day abiding in God’s love and presence.
One thing I’m excited about is our home and how it is beginning to feel like such a warm and welcoming place. For the past few years we haven’t been able to host very many people at our place. Our apartment was small and an awkward layout for guests, so we rarely wanted to have people over. We still did occasionally, but once Jon was a few weeks into each quarter it became impossible to make plans in the evenings with friends. He never knew ahead of time how much homework he would have on a certain evening so we had to protect our evenings for school work and for any bit of family time we could get.
But now, now I have a real dining table and a real kitchen that isn’t so overstuffed that items are constantly falling out of cupboards. So one of my dreams for this year is to make it normal for us to invite people into our home and have new faces around our dinner table. I also have a goal of making more meals from scratch. I just discovered a PBS series online called Kitchen Vignettes. They are 3-ish minute video montages of cooking/baking set to music. Watch just one and you will be inspired to make something new.
At the moment we are visiting some churches as we pray for the Lord to direct us to a church family that we can call home. We are eager to find a place where we can start building the kind of relationships with people that will help us grow and experience God more, but in the meantime it’s been great to experience how each church body in unique because of the unique people that comprise it. Walking into a brand new place and instantly feeling connected to a hundred people that you’ve never met before is so sweet. It’s incredible how knowing and loving the same person can instantly bond complete strangers. (Since writing this post, we have actually found a church that felt like home as soon as we walked in. I’m excited to share more about this sometime soon when I get the chance to write about it).
In case you don’t know, my family just moved to Rio Vista, California. It’s a lovely rural location, central to San Fransisco, Sacramento and a bunch of other cities like Vacaville, Davis, Antioch, Fairfield and more. We are discovering more things we love about this area all the time. It’s fairly close to the mountains, Yosemite and Tahoe. Many drives take us through beautiful countryside or along the Sacramento river.
In the countryside are wide open fields full of cattle and sheep grazing; many of them the same cattle and sheep that my husband will be overseeing. Its a fifteen minute drive from our house to the closest Bart stop where we can hop on and it will take us straight into San Fransisco so we won’t have to deal with traffic or ridiculous parking prices. We are also excited to venture into the mountains to try out some backpacking, fly fishing, hunting and boating on the river.
We were sad to trade in the beaches, but we are finding that there may actually be more opportunities for adventure here; for things we love to do or that we would love to try. I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m bragging about where we live – I think anytime you move to a new place things feel exciting and fresh and you fall in love with the place, even if later on you end up hating everything about it. Plus, I think I’m naturally someone who thrives on new environments. It tends to bring out the best version of myself.
Here’s the spur of the moment late Christmas picture we took last week before we discarded our tree. I get to be the creative director and set designer for these lovely family photos each year and Jon gets to be the production team and camera man. This was the first family Christmas photo that didn’t involve someone crying or cussing, so we considered it a success.
Last year we took our photo right at sunset, on big wet rocks at the ocean…
The sun was setting quickly, everyone was cold and I kept telling Jon, “You better get this picture right because there is no way we are getting ready and coming out here again to do this!” On the walk back to the car we were saying to each other how taking a Christmas photo sure hadn’t been a very merry experience. Yet we do it every year…
We were all actually happy when we took this photo last week after visiting the Sacramento Zoo so I will end on a good note.