We have now been in Arkansas for 6 months. 6 months. That’s half a year. That both seems too long and too short.
In many ways this place is still new, we are still new, we are still figuring out how we fit. But we have also begun to find a rhythm. We have begun to feel at home. We love where we are. We are being challenged in new and fresh ways at our new church and we continue to sense that God has us here. In this place. For this time. And we are content with that.
So, in the past few days I have been pondering what the last months have held. And I began to make a list. And then the list got longer. and then I cooked dinner and came back. And I decided I could make a list forever and at some point I just have to stop.
So, want to know what the last 6 months have been like for us? In the last 6 months we have….
- Moved all of our belongings across two states
- Stayed in a 1 bedroom apartment for more than 3 months
- Bought our first house (along with our first washer, dryer, refrigerator). Since being home owners we have replaced 1 toliet, painted the entire interior, hung blinds, put in new carpet, bought furniture, painted trim, decorated our new home for Christmas (and cleaned it all up), and we plan to get our garage door fixed in the next week.
- We have visited friends and family in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
- Bought our first SUV
- For Brandon specifically: He officially graduated with his PhD in August; turned 32; has spoken at 3 conferences / retreats; preached 1 weekend at our new church; taught 1 Bible survey course at Ouachita (his first college class as Dr. O’Brien); edited 6+ books (two of which were collaborations); worked as an acquisitions editor; built a wall of shelves; did most of the painting in our house; and has written 2 books reviews and 2 articles for publication. Oh, and he did most of this while starting a new (full time) job on November 1 working on a partnership between Ouachita Baptist University and New Life Church. As far as we can tell, this has only led to a few gray hairs.
- And what about me? I have adjusted to a different pace of life; done most of the unpacking; shopped copiously online for furniture deals; memorized roughly 20 children’s books including Little Blue Truck (city and country), Go Dogs go, several Sheep books and lots of Mo Willems; taught my first College course; found several Gluten-free options in Conway; learned to tie a scarf 1 handed (while simultaneously picking up a very strong, wiggly toddler with the other); have read at least half of about 10 books (the pile beside the bed keeps growing); and I continue to read all I can about Children’s Ministry / Spirituality; And I have recently mastered several other skills including: cutting Jamie’s hair, making smoothies and I make some pretty awesome gluten-free blueberry muffins. Oh, and I am still in my 20s. But just barely.
- And Jamie? He is 22 months old. In the last few months, he has learned to speak in sentences; has developed an excellent throwing arm; has gone pee pee in the potty 3 times; learned that bodily functions (of any sort) are hilarious; has learned to tell his first joke; met LOTS of new family; is pretty great at walking backwards and can run down a hill at full speed without falling; he loves soup and eats a lot of it (seriously); he can count to 8 (much to the surprise of his parents); and has perfected the ability to bat his eyelashes and get anything he wants. from anyone. at any time. Oh, and he’s adorable. Seriously, completely, knock-your-socks-off adorable. and funny. Very, very funny.
- We spend Christmas with my family for the first time in several years.
- In addition to all of the above, we have reunited with several college friends and are continuing to get to know LOTS of new people.
- We’ve hiked up Pinnacle mountain.
- And we have learned in new and overwhelming ways that God is truly faithful. He is good. He is enough. And we are so honored, privileged and amazed by his provision, his plan, his purpose and his leading.
And now it’s 2014. What does the next year hold?
- Brandon will complete 2 more editing projects; write his third book; speak at a conference in South Korea, launch a new college campus; preach more; continue to perfect his roasted chicken; and he has grand plans to smoke his own bacon. So, you know, he’s pretty free.
- Me? I will teach some more; have an opportunity to do some training / teaching / sharing my heart at a children’s ministry retreat; would like to learn how to grind my own flours; will work for my parent’s ministry in Germany; turn 30; throw some pretty epic birthdays for my boys and I’d like to learn to juggle… you know, because everyone needs a party trick. And speaking of parties, I want to have both a St. Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year party. Not together. That’d be weird.
- And Jamie? He will turn 2; He plans to watch school buses and garbage trucks everyday; he will probably go to preschool in the Fall; will be working on potty training this Spring; will continue his love affair with soup and smoothies; will make lots of new friends; and continue to perfect the cuteness. Oh, and he plans to grow his eyelashes. Because you can’t have too much of a good thing, right?
- We hope to go camping as a family and take a summer vacation.
- We will be going to a few weddings and will hopefully introduce Jamie to more of his family. Poor kid sure does have a lot.
- And we WILL travel internationally. I’ve been in one country too long. Something’s gotta give.
- Oh, and we’d like to collect more records.
- And learn some new recipes.
- And we feel like 2014 might bring some big changes for our family. More details on that later on.
So there are my lists. Did you stick it out to the end? Thanks. That’s impressive. You’re impressive.