Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 // one step forward, two steps back

Last year was a funny one. It was, at the same time, both the fastest and the slowest I think I've experienced. 

Shortly after beginning January with my shiny new resolution of daily exercise and improved productivity, I discovered I was pregnant, and began to "enjoy" four weeks of morning sickness. Gone was my exercise. I think out of the nine months of pregnancy, I exercised maybe 6 days, and consumed enough food to end hunger in Africa. Even though the beginning was a little rough, Chris and I were thrilled to be expecting (finally) and looked forward to becoming parents in October (we thought). 

My weeks were long and monotonous, made up of days with very little variation from routine. I taught violin lessons three days a week, taught PeeWee Patch on Wednesday nights, and kept up with running my home.

In April, I enjoyed the opportunity of decorating and hosting my first table at our church's annual ladies' tea. With help from my mom, I think it turned out pretty nice!

We planned our babymoon for May. Normally the second we're able to go on a vacation, Chris and I head full-speed to a beach somewhere. This time, though, we decided to visit all of his family before we hunkered down and waited for Baby. So off we were to the chilly North. We went to SD first and stayed with what Marsceaus aren't married off yet. ;) They gave me a WONDERFUL birthday dinner, and it was so special to spend my 21st birthday with them. Then we stopped by Chris's sister Claire's in MN before heading up to the northern part of the state and staying with his sister Meredith for a few days. The Larsons were excellent hosts, playing Settlers of Catan late into the night, doing music with us, and showing us all the beautiful waterfalls and touristy places to see in the area.

In June I had a blast putting together a beach-themed recital for my students. It was so much fun, and everyone did a great job! 

Chris and I also enjoyed a camping trip with my family and some friends from church. (Yes, I get major gnarly points for camping at 20+ weeks pregnant.)

June was a pretty big transition month for me musically. After playing only two concerts in the earlier part of the year, my poor violin rarely got taken out of its case. Our main church pianist has been having major health struggles and hasn't been able to come to church much at all. In a matter of about a week, I became the church choir accompanist, AND offertory accompanist, AND special accompanist. It's a good thing I was practically forced to do it, because I'm a timid performer and get nervous like crazy. This experience made me play, for one, but also helped enormously with my playing confidence, since I had to do it all the time. It was also super fun for me, as accompanying is my favorite thing ever to do. The hardest thing I think I've played to date is Dwight Gustafson's "Foundation." Holy moly and toledo and cow. :P

Anyway, July came and we were all invited up to my aunt and uncle's cabin in Hayward for the 4th of July. It was a big reunion type thing of my dad's side, so it was really fun to all be together for a few days. (I also rode the jet ski at 6 months pregnant. Applause please, people.)

My baby shower was in August. I had it so early so my friends would still be home from college and be able to come. About 70 ladies came and were such a blessing with their sweet encouragement and gifts. Everyone's generosity was very overwhelming. 

In September, Chris and I celebrated our second anniversary in downtown Chicago.

All 31 days of October were defined by eager anticipation and unstoppable impatience. I washed baby clothes, cleaned my house a million times, wrapped up teaching for the year, and kept going to the midwife and saying, "Hopefully this is the last time!" You can read all about the birth journey here, but as most of you know, little Peter stubbornly waited till November 16th to make his appearance. But when he did, he sure stole both our hearts in a hurry. ;)

Because Peter came much later than we expected, it was a huge blessing to stay close to home for the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's were all spent with my family; smaller celebrations that still meant everything to me. 

Since most of the year, as I've said, was rather slow and dreary since all I could do was wait for my little guy, I got a lot of reading done. You can read my reviews of the following books here, but here's a list of the titles:

Stargirl // Jerry Spinelli
That Printer of Udell's // Harold Bell Wright
How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World // Jordan Christy
Love, Stargirl // Jerry Spinelli
Tiger Lily // Jodi Lynn Anderson
Mrs. Mike // Benedict and Nancy Freeman
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World // Joanna Weaver
Hood // Stephen R. Lawhead
Hiding in the Spotlight // Greg Dawson
Isle of Swords // Wayne Thomas Batson
"When Did You See Her Last?" // Lemony Snicket
The Unhealthy Truth // Robyn O'Brien
The Search for Joyful // Benedict and Nancy Freeman
Trusting God // Jerry Bridges
Isle of Fire // Wayne Thomas Batson
The Maze Runner // James Dashner
A Wife After God's Own Heart // Elizabeth George
The Ransom of Mercy Carter // Caroline B. Cooney
Legend // Marie Lu
Five Little Pigs // Agatha Christie
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close // Jonathan Safran Foer
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Childbirth // Jennifer L. West
Homebirth // Sheila Kitzinger
The Westing Game // Ellen Raskin
Surprised by Motherhood // Lisa-Jo Baker

Spiritually, 2014 was a total fail year for me. I didn't do my devotions, did things I knew I shouldn't, and frankly didn't care. I don't really know what's going on with the spiritual side of me right now. I think God is letting me discover that nothing on this earth can truly satisfy except for my relationship with Him. He's showing me that you either love the world and hate God, or you love God and His commandments and shun the world. Friend of one, enemy of the other. The Bible talks about this and it's how it is. Why do I think I can hold hands with both, smile, and say, "Yep! I'm okay! Use me, God!"? Would I use me, with my loyalty being insecure at best? And by the way, how others live is no excuse. Having a horizontal view can cripple a Christian, and it definitely did me this year. I completely lost sight of God and instead was getting hung up on how others were living or backsliding or whatever. (Yeah, I know. As I sat there not reading my Bible. Oh the irony.) 

So once again I am at the start of a new year. By God's grace, I get another chance. I'm focusing on baby steps right now, because I get very easily overwhelmed with the huge list of things I need to work on in my Christian walk. I am trying to make Bible-reading a habit again. (I never used to miss!) My sweet sister-in-law has agreed to be my accountability partner. At the end of the day we text each other with the passage(s) we read and maybe a thought or two. It's good. I am reading Psalms and Matthew again, as those books are my default. :) If you think of it, I'd appreciate prayer that I would recognize lies as lies, and be willing to see where I have deceived myself into thinking what I'm doing is okay instead of choosing what's best. 

2015. Who knows what'll happen by year's end, but I'm hoping to rebuild my spiritual life, jump wholeheartedly into motherhood with its wild and tiny joys, read 25 books, have a garden, and get a dog. I want to make the world better because I'm here. I want to leave people refreshed because of my conversation, and not wearied or unedified by complaining or gossip. It's all possible through God, who can do abundantly above all that we ask or think. :)

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