(Country Store puzzle)
I have been struggling with the words to write this post for days, and maybe that’s because I don’t have it all sorted out in my head yet. On the surface, everything is going well. But deep down, I’m still wrestling with the anxiety of last year, still trying to find my footing. I’m not a person who changes direction easily.
The other night, Jonny and I were running some errands and I had a route in mind. He was driving and at one point in the trip, he moved into a turning lane when I expected him to continue straight. Involuntarily, I gasped loudly. Jonny knew immediately that he must have made a wrong turn in my mind and said so with a chuckle. All I could do was die laughing over how crazy I am.
Last year, we lived mostly off of our retirement account while Jonny did freelance work and looked for a full-time job. Though we were ultimately fine, it was a very stressful year. We certainly never suffered, but I was afraid. When I am afraid, I tend to try to come up with a plan to figure out how I will save the day. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I come up with imaginary scary scenarios. I actually worked through this in therapy about a decade ago. My therapist traced it back to childhood abuse, to very real scary scenarios. And while I do believe that he was correct on some level, it wasn’t the whole story and he didn’t have a real solution for me. He didn’t tell me that I don’t need a plan for every possible emergency, because God has everything under control. God already has a plan and what I really need to learn is how to lean into it whether I know what it is or not. I need to learn to trust Him. That’s something I really wrestle with, trusting in my heart and not just on paper. I know that God has plans for my ultimate good, but how much will those plans hurt along the way? How long will I have to wait to know what they are? I dread the hard times. I fear them.
Late last summer, I decided that if Jonny didn’t get a full-time job, that I would start a photography business. (As much as I love natural dyeing, I can’t earn enough to support our family that way.) Friends agreed that photography made sense. Months before this idea took hold, I started last year by taking a photography course for fun. I started studying wedding photography as a means of deepening my knowledge. At that point, I didn’t have plans to start a business. I definitely didn’t plan to photograph weddings, but it felt good to be learning and I loved it. Wedding photography is beautiful and interesting. Having been a second shooter at a few weddings over the years, I found myself on familiar ground. And then, out of the blue, a friend needed a last-minute photographer for her daughter’s wedding. I had to laugh as she explained the situation because everything seemed so providential.
I photographed that wedding and then was asked to shoot another. Friends hired me to do senior shoots. I photographed a friend’s family and did some personal brand and event photography. I loved it all and I felt proud of myself. I realized that I could do it. I made business cards so I would be prepared when people asked, and they did. I put most of the money that I made into equipment and more education.
And then last fall, Jonny got a job. He got the job we had hoped for all along. Now he’s preparing for law school. Rather than working together to juggle things at home, it’s mostly me here as he works long hours. And we are doing quite well. When Jonny was accepted into law school nearly fifteen years ago, we decided at the last minute that it wasn’t the right time. I was pregnant with Larkspur and he chose family over career. But we’re both 42 years old now and not getting any younger. I’m not pregnant and don’t know that I will be again. I’ve lost three babies since Mabel was born, the last on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe last month. I think we are moving into a new phase of family life and I am beginning to accept it.
In the months since Jonny started working full time away from home, I’ve thought and thought about what I should be doing myself now. I pray and ask, “What do You want me to do?” I keep coming back to my vocation, my primary role which is to love my family. There are many ways to do that, and I know that working to support them financially is one way that could look, but it’s not what I believe I am being called to do right now. I hope to find time for creative work with natural dyes, there will be goat’s milk soap in my shop in a few weeks, and I may photograph a wedding or two this year. I’m waiting to see what God places in my path. In the meantime, I have eight kids in front of me. One needs help making college decisions, one needs me to carry her on my hip. All eight are hungry most of the time. Jonny and I are being intentional about date nights and alone time. I’m doing a pretty good job of staying on top of the laundry. I’m homeschooling and I’m homemaking. It’s neither glamorous nor glorious but the important work of marriage and motherhood rarely is. I’m moving towards the peace I’ve been searching for.
I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a word to focus on in the new year. (I may be wrong. My memory is terrible.) Near the end of December, just for fun, I used Jennifer Fulwiler’s word of the year generator to see what word I would get. I only generated one word, no do-overs.
My word for the year is “HOME.”
p.s. Here are my notes and the pattern for the knitted unicorn. The pattern is also available on Etsy. I knit it for Mabel for Christmas and she loves it. Here’s a link to the blue cape that Bea is wearing in the first photos.
Here is a link to the Virgin of Guadalupe print.
Also, all the jigsaw puzzles in this post are linked in my sidebar. Jigsaw puzzle love is still going strong at our house!