2016: A Year in Review

2016, man. What a year for us all. It has been a full year for Tim and I, that’s for sure. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of fun things this year, our first year married, and our first eleven months without a baby. We’ve gone to see a couple of our favorite bands live, we’ve taken a spontaneous trip to Florida, we had dinner at the Top of the Hub in Boston, we saw Beauty & The Beast off-Broadway, we traveled to Vermont for a vacation. We welcomed our daughter into the world.

We’ve laughed, cried, lived, and loved. It’s been a really, truly blessed year. Our portion of hardship hasn’t been too much to bear, but instead it’s helped us grow, bond, and mature as individuals, and a couple. The two things that have been the most valuable, and important for us this year are firstly, on a practical note, honesty and communication – challenging though it may be sometimes, I swear, being honest with each other, and choosing to make the effort to communicate with each other has helped make this first year of marriage so much less agonizing than it could have been.  Secondly, and more importantly, trusting God. We have had our hills, mountains, and valleys this year, but God has been faithful to bring us over and through them all. There is no way that either of us would be where we are today except by the grace, mercy, and love of God. He has proven time and again to be our Rock, our Comfort, our Provider, and our Peace.

And now, just for funsies, a visual recollection of our year…

-January-

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Date night – we were supposed to go to his work’s Christmas party, but got lost in Boston instead.

-February-

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Tim surprised me with dinner at the Top of the Hub for my birthday. The view was incredible, and the creme brulee changed our lives.

-March-

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Shauna had some vacation time, so of course it was a good idea to out-of-the-blue make a trip to Florida, right?

-April-

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We found out for sure that I was pregnant at the end of March. Here’s our first look at Lucy!

-May-

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Mini golfing double date with Sam and Mike.

-June-

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I forget how this came about, but we decided to randomly have a picnic one day. Complete with lemonade, and fried chicken, and a beautiful (but long) walk in the park.

-July-

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After I left my job at the Cafe, I had weekends free. To celebrate our first weekend together, Tim surprised me with a fort! For context, when we had first started talking last year, we joked about making a blanket fort in the yard. 

-August-

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I failed the first sugar test for gestational diabetes, and had to take the long 3-hr one. 15 hours without food, and several games of war later, this guy stuck by my side the whole time.

-September-

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Baby bump!

-October-

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A lot of things happened in October, but this is from our drive up to Vermont for a little early anniversary vacation.

-November-

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Looking pretty good for the day after a 25-hour long, unmedicated labor.

-December-

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I stumbled upon a cyber-black-Monday-whatever deal that was 70% off cards, so we whipped up some impromptu Christmas card photos.

2016. It’s almost over, and Tim and I are just beginning a new adventure together. I can’t wait to see how Lucy continues to grow and change, and how we grow and change with her, and together.

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Too many thoughts.

 

 

 

You know how, sometimes, you’re thinking about a lot of different things, and the many facets of those things, and when you try to articulate all the things that are collecting inside your head it’s too hard to express them? That’s me today.

I have had a lot of thoughts this week about marriage, and about being a wife. Specifically, why do married people flaunt how hard marriage can be, and why do wives take the Bible verse, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:22, NKJV) in a negative, anti-women way? Whenever people ask, “How’s married life?” There always seems to be that pause, waiting for you to say how much harder it is than you expected. When you say it’s going well, they always follow up with, “Yeah, it’s great but it;s really hard. Sacrifice, man!”

God has also been teaching me a lot about what it means for me, Hannah, to be Tim’s wife. Not all husbands and wives are created equal—our humanity is inherently similar, but we are individuals. And, I believe that God made husbands and wives uniquely for each other. There have been several men over the years that I thought I could be compatible with in marriage. Not so. There is no other man who would be as patient, forgiving, and genuine towards me as Tim. No one else could fit into those nooks and crannies of who I am to make me whole. Tim is the real deal. I can’t imagine successfully maneuvering through life with anyone other than him. Father to the child inside me? No one else. No way. God created us for each other. I have no doubts.

However, how to be Tim’s wife is a position that I decided to take on with very little training, as far as Tim is concerned. I was not given in marriage to him ill-equipped for marriage by any means. I have been blessed with parents who have shown me an example of a godly marriage that is able to withstand the trials of life, the trials of humanity. My parents have been through it. If you know them, or any part of their story, you know I’m not exaggerating. You have no idea the peace of mind I feel, when a storm rolls in our life. I can look at the legacy of my parents’ marriage, and  I think to myself, “I know this isn’t impossible.”

However, my parents are only human. The reality is that marriage is a conduit for reminders of the promises of God in His Word—promises to protect, provide, change, and make new. When Tim and I face a dark night of the soul together, we come through it because of the Word of God. It’s not because we say we’re sorry and promise to do better next time. It’s because the Holy Spirit reminds us of His Word, and Tim and I agree that we need to step it up together. One of us isn’t climbing the mountain faster than the other; we are doing it together. We help and support each other, and aren’t afraid to correct each other. We pray for one another. We came into marriage knowing it wasn’t always going to be easy, or fun. Sometimes, it would be really not fun, but God has been so perfectly faithful to us every time. We are challenged to grow and change, as individuals, but not separately.

There’s no hard time that Tim and I have gone through so far that I would look at and say, “Oof, yeah, this is definitely a reason to not get married.” I would never want to give anyone that impression, because marriage is incredible! I would never choose to be single, again. That season came, lasted, and went. I wouldn’t trade that time in my life for anything. I wasn’t ready to be married. There were things I wanted to do as an unmarried woman, and God allowed me to do them. Now, I’m a wife, and soon to be a mother, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

Being a wife…well, being a wife is a huge deal. God is teaching me a lot about being a wife. The importance of knowing my place in Christ is the biggest lesson I’m learning these days. The husband is the head of the home, he is the spokesman, he is the leader, but the wife does not sit idly by. She is right beside him, and she must walk in the authority Christ has given her as a woman of God.

This is why the fuss over wives being told to submit to their husbands doesn’t make sense to me. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell women they can’t have opinions.

Submission is an act of trust. Obedience is an act of trust. We submit to and obey God, because we trust Him. How empowering it must be for a husband to know that his wife trusts him. How empowering for him to know that she is praying for him, and walking in her own godly authority beside him, instead of shrinking behind and just going along with whatever he says or does because he’s the man? The Bible does not tell women to do that.

The Proverbs 31 woman has been on my mind a lot, too. How in the world is that a weak woman? She buys and sells land, she manages her home, she upholds the reputation of her husband by being the incredible woman that she is—not because her husband is making her say good things about him. Her husband praises her; he doesn’t hold her down. She is out and about, keeping busy and productive. She is empowered by her position as her husband’s wife.

My mom has more clarified and educated thoughts about this than I do, but this is where I’m at so far. Being a wife is a powerful thing. It is a responsibility, not just a title. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Is it challenging? Definitely. Is it daunting? Sometimes, but Christ dwells in me, and He called me to be Tim’s wife. I was created for this role, for such a time as this—I don’t have to be intimidated. I just have to trust and obey.

What a lot of people forget, and what isn’t being talked about enough, especially in church, is this idea of waiting. Sure, Christians promote True Love Waits religiously (no, literally, religiously,) but whenever people think of waiting, they think about waiting to have sex until marriage. The concept of waiting for God to bring the right person that He handcrafted for you, is foreign to a lot of people. Or at least, the reality of it is. A lot of people bash the fairy tale for giving us “unrealistic expectations” but if God, Who could create the world out of nothing, can’t make a fairy tale real life, then what kind of God is He? I told the Lord that whoever I married would have to fall from the sky and land at my doorstep, and ask me to marry him, because there were no young men around me that I could realistically consider having a future with. Tim bought a plane ticket to see me a WEEK after talking to me. We knew we were going to get married a WEEK after he arrived at my doorstep.

ONE WEEK. I had been talking to this guy for a month and a half. I didn’t know how he squeezed the toothpaste tube, I didn’t know if he was more tidy or messy, I didn’t know if he left his underwear on the floor or put it in the hamper. But I knew he was it. I knew that for me, there was no one better suited for me. God created us for each other, and when we knew, we knew. The phenomenon is real, but not enough people talk about it like it is. God loves love! Read Song of Solomon, He’s all about it. Why wouldn’t God want us to be with the person He created just for us, who could love us as deeply, and that we could love as deeply, as the couple in Song of Solomon?

Maybe I’m really rambling now, but I guess the moral of the story, especially for single people, don’t let your doubt overshadow the mustard seed of faith you have for God to cross your paths with the person He is preparing just for you. Don’t let the struggles of others dictate how you see marriage. Marriage is a blessing, in the good times and bad. God is faithful through it all, if you choose to let Him be.

A child in chaos.

Some people often express how glad they are that they don’t have children, because “everything in the world is so crazy! I don’t want my kid to have to deal with this!” I get it. Sort of. The world has been crazy since before you were born, though – you still can make a difference.

Children are humanity’s chance at a bank slate. The people who raise children have the opportunity to start a ripple effect of a new kind of people in the world. Children have more influence than we are inclined to think they have…a lot of people see them as these tiny masses taking up space. However, we forget that children become what we make them, and that we have the chance to raise children that will make a difference. I have the chance to raise a child that will make a difference.

My aunt asked me last weekend if I was afraid to have a child in this insanity – something along those lines. I used to be. Why wouldn’t I be? Rapists are being given get out of jail free cards, numerous felonies by a person in power are being brushed off like a first-time misdemeanor by a kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, people are killing – and being killed – because we live in a world that tells us we don’t know who to trust anymore. There are plenty of reasons in just this summer alone, to be worried about bringing a child into this world.

I’m not afraid anymore, though. I can’t be. I’m 20 weeks pregnant. This baby is really inside me, and it’s really going to be born in just a few months. I have said for a long time, before the possibility of me having a baby was even a thing, that if I get pregnant, then so be it. It’s the Lord’s will. I’m a radical person, I know, letting God be my birth control. But the Bible says that the Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and that if we are obedient, we will be kept in His perfect will. I want to live God’s will for my life, and having a baby is a part of that. For the sake of my baby, and those around me, I can’t afford to be afraid.

I remember the moment when I was scared to have my baby. It was several weeks ago, when Brock Turner was still trending, and people pretended like it mattered. I was sitting in my car, outside of our apartment, and was just worried. My baby is going to be born into madness. We barely have time to catch our breath from shouting our opinions about one crisis, before another takes its place. Facebook is where people think they make a difference, because they can tell everyone at once what they really think about the terror threats, or lack thereof. The NRA isn’t following you on Twitter, guys. You want to do something about gun control, get out there and do something already.

Anyway. I came face to face with the reality of how different my child’s life will be from mine. I grew up in a very Christian home, thank God, and there are a lot of things about this world that I did not encounter until my 20s. The chances of that being the case for my child are slim. Violence and perversion are becoming just a page filler in the newspaper. It’s the norm. You don’t have to be “from the hood” to know someone who struggles with a heroin addiction, or “watch your back” when you’re near a shady part of town because no place is safe. Our locations are known at all times. Anyone who wants to find us, can. It’s a dangerous world. It makes sense to be afraid.

But you know what isn’t dangerous? Jesus Christ, and His power, and His love. That’s what I have to put my faith in as I face this new life of parenthood.  Not a presidential candidate, not a weapon, not a security system. These things can be rendered useless. My Jesus, however, cannot.

As I was sitting in my car, worrying about the world my baby is going to be born in, I felt the Holy Spirit comfort me, and tell me that my child is going to make a difference. Will it be in just one person’s life, or many? I don’t know. But I am experiencing the phenomenon of “from the womb, I knew you.” Jeremiah 1:5. It’s one thing to have been alive for over two decades and realize that God’s known your life before you were born, but it’s a completely other experience to know from the before this child growing inside me came to be, He knew their life, too. And I get to see it. My husband and I get to witness our child live, and grow, and prayerfully become a man or woman of God. When they go through heartbreak, or face the realities of the world, I can remind them, God wanted you here in this world for such a time as this.

I’m not just carrying a kid that I’m going to watch grow up, and hopefully teach good things to. I’m carrying a new vessel that God wants to use to make a difference in a world so bound by hate, and corruption.

That’s amazing. So, no. I’m not afraid of bringing a child into this insanity. God is bringing them into this insanity, for such a time as this, and Tim and I are going to do our best to raise them in such a way that they realize that, and desire God’s will for their life.

 

Carrying life made me pro-life.

I have always been pro-life, let’s get that out of the way.

I’m 12 weeks pregnant, one week away from being out of my first trimester. This week, my baby can open and close their fists, they can feel me if I poke my abdomen, and move around (though I can’t feel them move, yet.) My baby has earlobes, their eyes are closer together, and the eyelids are less transparent. My baby’s digestive track is beginning to function, the pituitary gland is beginning to produce hormones, bone marrow is making white blood cells. The pancreas is doing up insulin, and Baby has a completed thyroid, as well as all the other major organ systems being completed as well.

At six weeks, a baby’s heart is already pumping blood. That, I think, is considered a heartbeat, right?

12 weeks from now, at week 24, I could have an abortion, according to US laws. At week 24, my Baby will have eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair. My baby will be able to hear everything going on outside of its little home, and as far as body functions go, everything is working – just some fine tuning as far as fat deposits, translucent skin, etc. Babies that are born at week 24 can survive, even though they aren’t “technically” full-term.

Babies are born. New people only come into this world through a sperm and an egg coming together, and planting in the uterus, and going through the process of pregnancy. It’s literally the only way that human beings are formed. Because pregnancy is the only process through which a person like you or more can come into the world, there’s little doubt that what’s growing inside a woman for nine months is in fact, human.

Human rights. Before a woman is a woman, she is a human. Frankly, the baby in the womb, before the chromosomes do their thing, and decide to change, is definitely not male. Why would we want to stop humanity from existing?

Yes, women have the right to do whatever they please to their body, but frankly, the body that is growing inside of your body is NOT your body. It’s someone else’s.

The baby growing inside of me is a separate person. It’s not me. It’s becoming independent of me every week. Heck, it has a placenta to give it what it needs. It grows on its own – I’m eating a little bit more than normal to make sure there’s enough nutrients to go around, but how does that put me out? The fluctuating hormones affect me, but then the feelings go away. I’m drinking more water than usual for MY benefit, so that I don’t have to be in pain from dehydration. The baby literally has everything it needs, I’m just a vehicle – as far a my body and theirs goes.

Motherhood is different. If motherhood is what we are trying to escape, then be a vehicle to the baby, and give it away. There are plenty of people who can’t have children of their own, who would love to be parents.

It’s only a blob of cells for a couple weeks. After that, it has a heartbeat.

Before we are women, or men, we are human. The first right as a human being, should be the right to live.

Learning to Worship Again

Worshiping God. It’s something that Christians do. We each do it our own way, and it’s a personal experience. It’s an opportunity to be in the presence of the Father, who saved us, and redeemed us. A chance to pour out love, and gratitude, and take our cares to Him. I think it’s a form of prayer…or, prayer is a form of worship. Or both.

Recently, we began attending a church that we really feel is the place that God brought us. I had a feeling He would bring us there, and I am so blessed by everything it has offered us so far. For me, having had the need, and desire for a place that I could just feel safe, and grow, and be at peace…this has been that place. Our pastor just sent us a text to say hey, and that he missed us. I have never felt so free to worship the Lord, at least not in the past few years. I love to worship God, but there just was a point where I didn’t anymore. I didn’t raise my hands, I didn’t say anything out loud. Now, my hands lift past my head. I feel so much peace now, to worship my heavenly Father.

I was particularly blessed yesterday in service. We were a little late, and at whatever point I just decided to close my eyes, and think about the Lord. This led me on a journey to understanding the value of worship. There are some things in my life that I’m dealing with, and trusting the Lord with, and when I began to worship, those things came into my mind. I realized how I was really feeling about things, etc.

Now, what is common – or at least it has been common for me – is to wallow-worship. I stew, and cry, and despair over my pain or troubles while I lift my hands to God, thinking that that somehow brings Him glory. When really, it’s my emotions. It’s literally worshiping my emotions, and feelings.

I’m not saying that we don’t process, and heal during worship, but there has to come that point where we hand those things over to Jesus, and then praise Him for His mercy, and grace, and love, and faithfulness. We must take our attention away from the things that press on us, and put them on the altar of our hearts…and leave them there.

That was a popular phrase in college…the altar of your heart. Now, as I write this, it’s beginning to make sense to me.

Our body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 16:19.) Our heart is the center of our being (Luke 6:45) So, the altar of our heart….if we are the temple, and the heart is that place where fruit is grown. SO…do you see where I’m going here?

When we worship, when we go before the Lord with our hearts, there are things that we need to give to Him because frankly, if they linger in our hearts, they can take root and grow into something unhealthy.

When we give them to Him, we need to be done with it. We need to take it, lift our hands from it, to Jesus, and praise Him. We leave that thing in the hands of Jesus, because trust me, He’s big enough.

That’s what’s been on my mind. God is faithful. He’s teaching me things every day, and He’s answering my prayer of starting fresh with Him.

I’m watching documentaries again

I love documentaries. Popular topics for me include (but are not limited to) dancing, serial killers, and WWII. I’m watching one now about the first African American prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. She became the first prima ballerina of color last year. That was quite shocking to me.

I think I’ve always sort of dreamed of being a dancer, which is why I enjoy these kind of documentaries.

I’ve been married for two and a half months, now. A friend asked me today (and everyone who hasn’t seen me since the wedding – or has,) “How’s married life?” My answers have varied, because saying “It’s great!” is what you’re supposed to say 😉 I told her it was awesome, and added that it was worth waiting for.

Married life was certainly worth waiting for. I told someone else that married life is “what I made to do.” Again, it’s true. Single life was not meant for me. I was created to love, and serve – be loved, and served. I’m not even three months in, but I have never felt more at home than I do as Tim’s wife. Yeah, planning meals is hard, but it’s fun. I’m kind of spoiled because Tim does the laundry, and it’s wonderful.

I’m learning a lot. I’m learning how vitally important it is to have a strong walk with Christ. Our spirituality is no longer just for us. What did I care if I didn’t walk closely with Jesus? It affected no one but myself, and I didn’t really care about myself. This is no longer the case. We need to be strong in the Lord for ourselves and each other. For our future children. So much is in the balance now, because of our marriage.

It’s intimidating, but it’s not…scary. I’m not afraid of realizing how important it is that we are now accountable to God for our choices in a way unlike any other. It’s hard to explain. It’s real, though. We have become our own separate unit…I used to be under my parents, Tim used to be under his. The dynamic was different. Now it’s us. Sure, we have support, and love, and guidance, and support from our families, but we now are our own entity. Accountable to God.

It really is hard to explain, but I’m sure anyone who is married, can understand what I’m trying to say.

We are learning how to be married. We are learning how to be friends. Tim and I haven’t known each other a year! We have so much to learn about each other! It’s amazing, and sometimes emotional, but mostly the greatest experience of my life.

I’ve never been more in love with a man than I am with Tim. I have never been more thankful for him to be the one I get to share life with.

I’ve started exercising again. My friend Sam and I go to the gym twice a week. I realized at some point that I am now truly capable of having babies someday, and my biological whatever just clicked, and decided to start taking better care of my body. It was weird phenomenon. My mother has been telling me since the age of 12 that I should take care of my body because some day I’m going to have baby. “Okay, mom.”

Now, because I waited to have sex until marriage, frankly, that’s actually true. Is that too forward? I don’t know. My doctor has certainly been pleasantly surprised by my life choices. At one point, I thought I might be pregnant, and she was like, “Well, you’ve been together for a while now, right?” I was like yeah, but we’ve only been married for two months. Forgetting in that moment how uncommon it is to do that. She repeated herself, saying that “Well yeah, but you’ve still been together, right?” Oh! Well, no. We waited. She was genuinely surprised.

That was a rabbit trail, sorry. Just trying to sum up married life so far.

I love it. I would not go back to being single, if I had the chance. If you are someone who desires to be married, keep trusting God. He is not keeping something from you, He is preparing something for you. Enjoy what He’s blessed you with thus far. Don’t resent Him. He knows your hearts desires. The Bible does not lie – He gives you the desires of your heart. Just always ask Him to make His desires your own, and you will always live in pleasant surprise. It’s not always easy, it’s really not. But oh, is it worth it.

Being married is a new adventure. It is not a flat path. It has hills. There are always new places to explore.

“I am blessed.” – Me, August 31, 2015

Those were the last words, of my last blog post on my old blog. I’ve been wanting to blog for a while, now, but for some reason, something was holding me back. I can’t post here, anymore. I’ve gone beyond pancakes now. If I keep blogging here, it’s as if I’m permitting my future self to get into a rut.

That’s how I felt, honestly. Life Over Pancakes was a process for me, the process of choosing substance over nothingness. I was a girl when I started that blog, 21 years old. I was infatuated with the wrong man, I was on a road to being completely consumed with myself, and I really did very little that wasn’t complaining, and/or having revelations about my spiritual condition. I was very honest, very open – perhaps too much so, sometimes.

Now, I’m two weeks away from being 25. A quarter of a century. I’ve been to England. I’ve been to Paris. I’ve met, and married an incredible man within the course of 8 months. In one week, we will be married for two months. Two. Months. It almost feels like a year has gone by…I haven’t even known him for a year! I started 2015 at a new coffee shop, as a simple barista, and I ended 2015 at a different coffee shop, with the title of Assistant Manager. There is no way that I could have made 2015 turn out to be so highly in my favor on my own. I didn’t, frankly. I started the year pretty hopeless, actually.

God is faithful. He saved me, He brought me back into the Light, and showed me His mercy, and love, and favor. He has blessed me, and I would be wary to give praise to anyone except the Lord for where I’m at today. It’s one of those situations where, you know that you’ll get stuck down by lightning if you don’t give glory where glory is due.

I am blessed. Tim’s and my wedding was perfect. Not a dry eye in the house, and God was honored, which is all that mattered.

Now, life is good. We’re happy. Being married works for me…I can’t imagine going back to being single by choice. I can’t imagine spending my life with any other man. We have a church that we enjoy. I used to not have good vibes about it, honestly, yet I felt the Holy Spirit tell me that it was where we were going to end up. End up there, we did. I’m so thankful. We are able to just take in for a little while. I’m learning to worship God again. I feel like my pastor cares about me, and my husband. It’s a healthy, safe environment for us.

I’m in school, again, and that’s going well so far. This past week was sort of rough in oe class, but each week I’m figuring out what I need to do to balance everything. Home, health, work, education, and my spiritual life. It’s a lot of responsibilities that I had before I was married, but now have become actually important to living now that I am married…which is strange, but hopefully someone can relate!

I’m a different woman. I’m a complete woman. I wont arrive until I get to glory, but until then, I hope that I always have the courage to move forward.

I’m looking forward to this new journey!