How to Deal with Change

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Consider this post your confirmation I’ve successfully navigated four airports, seven bags, and a whole lot of hours without a whole lotta sleep to an apartment here in Lyon, France. Home sweet home. For now, anyways.  

In the past week Trent and I began our seventh year of living overseas. In the past month, we began our seventh year of marriage. And now in my 27th year of life, I’m learning change is a constant and adaptation isn’t just for outdoor animals.

My marriage has changed. I’ll call it growth. My home has changed. Too many times to count. My tastes have changed. Easily evidenced by old photos. My faith has changed. What a ride that’s been. My friendships have changed. Mom always said they would. Even my skin has changed. Yep, mom warned me of that one too. Should’ve listened and worn the sunscreen.

You get it, though. Everything changes.

Sometimes it’s a gradual change. I can relate to C.S. Lewis. “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” That’s the kind of change that has me wondering how I got to be 27, married and with a mortgage. I remember 8th grade graduation like yesterday.

But then there are those quick, unexpected, bigger-than-I-thought, or harder-than-expected changes. The kind that come fast and strong and there’s really nothing subtle about them. Like when Monday morning I woke up and my feet were on French ground. My mind flashed back to the 21 year-old teary-eyed newlywed sitting on a bed in Austria asking her husband if this would ever get easier. That was nearly 7 years ago, and I’m still not sure I could answer yes.

And you would think it would, wouldn’t you? You would think I’ve mastered this art of change by now. In the past 7 years, there have been 15, yes 15, different residences to which I’ve referred as home. But the truth is, change is an art I haven’t even come close to mastering. I’m still in paint by numbers.

But I’ve found over the years my struggle isn’t what I thought. It’s not really about the new home or the change in friendship or the “evolution” of my skin. No, it really just comes down to myself.

I struggle most when I hold tightest to how things happened to be before they changed. Grasping for control over my circumstances makes a move across the globe feel more like one to the moon. Too highly esteeming outward beauty makes a few fine lines and sun spots turn mirrors into mortifying. Planting security into friendships turns companionship into co-dependency. Change is difficult because I, and probably you, give too much power to everything and everyone but the One who never changes. Life is ever-changing and the only healthy way to manage is to hold tightly to Christ and loosely to control.

That’s not to say new places, faces, dynamics and developments won’t be challenging and even downright difficult at times. Change, handled in the best of ways, can still be trying. But it’s the perfect opportunity to examine values and possibly even re-evaluate. The more we are anchored at our core, the steadier we will be in uncertain circumstances. Don’t fight the change, just hold on and grab harder to to a Father who so timelessly promises to be the same yesterday and today–and forever!

Hallelujah…I’ll rest in that truth and maybe even take a nap. Turns out I’m still holding pretty tightly to the Central Standard Time zone.

5 Things Working For Me

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1. Blank canvases turned blue.
Back in May before returning to the States for the offseason, Trent and I named this the summer for not perfecting our home. It is furnished, but not perfectly. And it is decorated, but not entirely. With only seven weeks at home including several short trips, we agreed on no “big projects” other than painting the living/dining/kitchen area. And even then, we called in reinforcement. Read: I have the most amazing younger brother who helped us make a final push in finishing up the painting of our built-ins during his visit. I know, I know. Some host I am.
Couple our newly-white walls with nothing on display along with a husband who’s constantly encouraging me to paint when I’m in a mood (art therapy, anyone?) and I found myself at Hobby Lobby with a canvas larger than my cart. It sat blank for weeks until a few days ago when I was thinking about some precious people I’ve spent time with this summer and how I’ll be leaving the country, but mostly their company, again for ten months. Enter, art therapy. Who said the blues are all bad?

2. Bob Goff’s Twitter
Just follow. You’re welcome.

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3. Time with 90-somethings and 80-somethings.
The first words out of my great-great-aunt-in-law’s (or something like that) mouth were: You know, I’m 97 now! I’ve always wondered when you cross the delicate line between concealing your age and owning it. I still don’t know. But Aunt Dorothy, you rock 97 like it’s nobody’s business!

Truth be told, I’m not a big current events person. At all. I don’t watch the news, read the paper or listen to talk radio (does anyone anymore?). But in an effort to channel my inner adult, I decided it was time for me to become slightly more informed. One of my very best girlfriends put me onto The Skimm, and this is a news platform I can get down with.

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5. Chicago
Maybe it’s more the people in it than the city itself. But the city itself isn’t too bad either. Trent and I spent the weekend visiting some sweet friends in the Windy City. We grilled out, did a First Lady Architecture Boat Tour, and walked along the Riverwalk. We decided to go big or go home on our double date by ordering the Chef’s Menu at the The Publican Restaurant for dinner. And we finished the weekend up with a Sunday morning service on marriage at Park Community Church, during which time my husband ensured I take detailed notes. Chicago for the win.


 

Bad Ideas and a Good Recipe: Caprese Salad

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Think back to yourself six years ago.
My guess would be you’ve learned a lot. So have I.

I was a young wife, both in that role and in years of age. I had a lot of finding out to do.

So this week as my husband manned the barbecue while I fixed fresh greens and a Caprese salad, it couldn’t help remind me of one of my larger lessons in marriage and in life.
Why? Well, because it was Monday. And we were about to eat burgers and brats.

You see, our first year of marriage was six years ago and we were overseas in a tiny town of Austria. And at the time, meatless Mondays was my answer to managing money on a minimal income. I failed to notice the fact that if you subtracted meat from my husband’s diet, there wasn’t much else. Did I mention his career was professional athlete? About now you’re probably thinking of what a winner of a wife I was.

But we all grow, right? My husband has added a whole new section of the food pyramid to his palate called vegetables and I have since discovered the meat aisle at the grocery store.

So this Monday when we invited friends into our home for a barbecue, it felt a little like a celebration. A celebration of meat and marriage and all the crazy things we’ve done and little ways we’ve grown.

I hope I never forget to celebrate these things in life. You know, the poor decisions of the past turned funny stories of the future. The growth of perspective and the richness of story from the less than sensical words said and less than logical choices made.

The change and the growth and the embarrassing stories that bring some of it about? It is all worth celebrating. Indeed, it should all be celebrated.

So pull up a chair, put some burgers on the grill, and celebrate this life we’ve been given!

Oh, and just in case you want a side, here’s something as simple as it is delicious:
Ingredients:
-2 large whole tomatoes
-12 oz. fresh mozzarella
-4-5 leaves fresh basil
-freshly cracked black pepper
-sea salt
-high quality olive oil
Slice mozzarella and tomatoes into equal-sized, slightly thick slices. Layer in a flat dish, alternating mozzarella slices with tomato slices. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Chop fresh basil and sprinkle over mozzarella and tomatoes. Finish with plenty of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Encouragement in Encounter

IMG_3810I have found myself in the same situation over and over this past week while at home in Champaign. It’s looked quite different from place to place, but the outcomes have ultimately been the same.

It looked like four people fellowshipping over farm to table food. The flavors were robust, but the conversation even moreso. We were an unlikely double date. I, at 27, and my nearly 30 year-old husband all of the sudden seemed so young and, for lack of a better word, dumb. We sat across from a 70 year-old and his bride of 47 years. But you’d have never guessed that. Their spirit and spark I’d put up against anyone. And so I sat there and wished for wisdom to work like osmosis. Just to be around them, I felt wiser.

It looked like two ladies talking over tea and scones in the early morning sunshine. I was caught up to date on the excitement of new love, the angst of the unknown, the opportunities not yet unwrapped and the hope in a future as God will unfold it. She squeezed so tight when we said goodbye, but I knew that wasn’t the reason my heart wanted to burst. Just to know her as my friend, it made my heart happy.

It looked like the quaint corner of a back office with four people sitting in stuffed chairs and holding hands over heartfelt prayers. My husband and I snagged the 60-something pastor and his wife because that’s what you do when you know someone’s walked longer with the Lord than you have. They poured words of life and love over our lives and I couldn’t help but think in that very corner this must be the good life. Just to be around them, it was a shot of strength through my veins.

It looked like a quick pop-in visit to pick up a frame, but really it was more than that. It was the smiling face of a friend to greet me at her door. She welcomed me into the heart of her home, no matter the renovations and raw floors as the backdrop. It’s funny how ten minutes can brighten the next ten hours of your day. Just to stop by, I got a glimpse of what real hospitality is really about.

And over and over again I found myself in the same situation. Humbled by life’s humble moments. And encouraged by engagement.

I hope I keep my eyes wide open in this life because that’s the best way I know to learn. There is so much richness in relationship because every encounter is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn wisdom and love, kindness and caring. And the lessons are as numerous and unique as the people we meet.

Today, my wish for you is the same for me. That you’d open your eyes to the people around you and find this place to be a beautiful world. And then…well, go do your part to make it even moreso