On Monday, we had the most magical snow. I described it as the kind of snow featured in the last scene of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Slow and soft, the big, fluffy flakes landed silently, swirling on their way down. I know I may be in the minority with my love for winter and snow. Admittedly, most people living in a winter climate enjoy it at least somewhat, but I feel so alive on a cold, snowy day. And truly, I don't think I'm ever happier than when I have snow in my hair (or when I'm hugging people I love).
But this is also the time of year when the I-can't-wait-for-summer talk begins. Even as someone who loves winter, there are things about it that are challenging (feeling more stuck at home, fewer hours of daylight, more clothing required for every activity, getting an infant in and out of a carseat on a day with multiple errands, etc). But at the heart of the buff with winter is that I think we live in a "Just wait...." society.
So often in my interactions with others, I'll mention something Cooper is doing or something I love about this current stage, and the reply is "But just wait....It gets way more fun/way more hard..." Despite my best efforts to highlight the joy of every stage, I'm usually met with a call to look ahead to better, or to dread the future, with its own hardships. My whole life, I've noticed that we, as a society, love to yearn for (or warn against the troubles of) the next stage:
- When N and I were dating....when are you getting engaged?
- When N and I were newly married...when are you going to have babies or buy a home?
- When N and I were married for a few years and happy...just wait until you're not newlyweds anymore
- When we were settled and renting and married for five years....but really, when are you going to have babies or buy a home?
And now, with Cooper, in a phase where he's giggly and interactive and so fun...just wait, it's about to get fun, OR just wait, they'll start moving/teething more/ talking back and your life will be over.
I want to be open about struggles of parenthood, as there have been many: the changes with my body postpartum, the changing family dynamics, adjustment to less "free time," adjustments to sleeping, and juggling the keeping of a home and the freedom to just play with Cooper. The tension and worry that comes with meeting a baby's needs: "Is he eating enough? Is he growing well enough? Could I do better? Am I reading to him enough? Is he happy?" etc. I don't want to be inauthentic or naive. Every single life stage has its struggles and every single life stage has its joys.
I find that it's helpful to share the hard stuff sometimes, but share the joy often. So if you come up to me and I tell you about how I'm loving this stage with Cooper, my intention isn't to gloat or make my life seem perfect or rosy, it's to embrace the wonderful parts of a full, complex life. Ask me about the hard stuff and I will share. But it's healthiest for my heart to look at a normal day and say, God, you were faithful in so many things today. In my own life, I'm finding that a heart of praise isn't blind to struggles, nor is it consistently focused on them.
So, with Cooper at nearly 7.5 months, and in the middle of January, I don't want to rush through either this stage or this winter. I'd rather do my best to settle in, seek joy in the blessings in my life (and ultimately, the greatest joy in Christ)! Summer will come again, and it will be wonderful. And every life stage will be hard and wonderful, too, this side of heaven.
I was reading in my devotional, Reading to Walk: Meditations for the Life of Faith, and in it, on an entry titled The Best Start to Everyday, Jonathan Parnell writes:
Psalm 143:8 may capture it best: "Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul."
Two things make up everyone's everyday: receptivity and productivity. We are creatures who constantly take in and put out. We absorb and we exude. The question is what will it be? [...]
If we are stepping into absorbing and exuding, first things first, let us soak in God's truth and then submit all our doing to his guidance. The best way to start the day, everyday, is with the prayer, in short: let me hear and lead me on.
Let me hear: Let us first hear of God's steadfast love and steady our thoughts on this anchor: God shows his love for us in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8). For my sake, God made his sinless Son to be sin so that in him I might become his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for me. (Galatians 3:13) Let us receive his words: You did not choose me, but I chose you. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine (John 15:16; Isaiah 43:1). Rest firmly in the gospel of his grace—that he loves you, that he has his grip on you, that he is never letting you go (John 10:28).
Lead me on: This prayer is simple: God, make us know the way. [...] This prayer is hope of the deepest kind, first elating us by the wonder of God's love at Calvary and then humbling us by the truth that we never stop needing him. There is his definitive, rock-solid demonstration of covenant love and unfailing faithfulness. And then there is his nearness now, his grace today and guidance tomorrow.
I loved that. Because whether the hardness of a life stage is poignant and heavy for you today or tomorrow, we can start everyday, not with the assurance of self-reliance and a can-do attitude, but with the notion that We are His, and He will lead us. Through teething, through sleepless nights, through illness, through financial hardship, loneliness, and long seasons of waiting, moves, and heartbreak, and unseen struggles, pray: Let me hear, and lead me on [into the future, with joy].
And, in light of this, here are some of my favorite little things about life and this stage with Cooper, right now:
- Cooper (very happy) in a pile of Lopi
- everyone excited that Daddy didn't have to work on Monday
- caprese salad for me
- a happy baby, chewing on my teether necklaces
- Cooper fascinated by laundry baskets and wool dryer balls
- a smiley, post-nap baby bear
- coffee dates with Aunt Katelyn
- daddy carrying Cooper out to the car after church
- the cutest pajamas I've ever seen, and a one-socked baby
PS—I haven't added gifs to a post since this post about our Canada trip. Nicholas mentioned it would be fun to add some, so here we are! :)