My husband, Loren, had his grad school orientation this evening. Last fall when we left our Youth Pastor position in Corvallis, Loren made the scary decision that he wanted to pursue his Masters of Arts in Teaching. This was scary for a lot of reasons: the first big reason was that we were confident we would always be employed by a church, pursuing careers in vocational ministry. Identity shift. It quickly became scary again because he has a full time job, two new babies, is now a transracial-family dad, is married to a big-feeling exhausted wife who needs help doing laundry and eating.. and well, if that isn't already a lot of things, he has officially began his 20 month grad school program.
After he got home tonight we talked again about how hard this is going to be. Life is already hard. Raising two babies is hard. Juggling his work with my writing deadlines with photography sessions and editing those images with community that we adore while figuring out how to be parents -- adoptive, biologically and transracially -- is a lot of things.
Financially...it doesn't make sense. He will be student-teaching for seven months starting next fall. We have a year to figure out how we are going to pay our bills during that time; we have a year for me to write and photograph as much as possible to pay off current debts and save money for those seven months. Grad school is expensive as it is; throw in the inability for our main bread-winner to work and the opportunity to trust God is our only option.
But He has gotten us this far. He has superseded my expectations of what He can do.
He has brought us Sage. He has brought us Ira. He has grown our family by four feet in 2016. He has helped us knit our marriage tighter than ever. He is the avenue, the way, the reason, the hope we have to keep on keeping on.
We are talking about paper routes and extra writing and photography jobs and all of this crazy exhausting stuff that makes my eyes burn just imagining it, but also makes my soul dance because we can do this. He is strength in our bones and hope for our future and He is calling us to sprint to where our passions reside. I believe that in chasing where our hearts are headed, we can live fully and abundantly, enabling us to love others deeper than ever. He fills us up so we can pour out. We pour out so He can fill us up.
Despite the seemingly impossibility of all of this crazy big dream-stuff actually working out, Loren is officially in process of becoming a teacher. I am becoming a writer. Also, foster care is a big thing on my heart and we are clearly in no place to become foster parents currently, but we can be respite care providers and have been a few times now...and of course it's a lot but it's a big part of our "dream" and goal of loving others. It has truly only blessed us and added beautiful paragraphs to the story we get to be a part of. All the while raising two beautiful baby boys, both complete treasures, both under one.
I hope and pray they grow knowing they can trust their Jesus as Provider; I hope we model that for them, model the reality that Jesus places dreams in our hearts that are not logical and do not make sense financially or emotionally or physically or whatever, but that He is bigger than all of the "what ifs" and "reasons why not to pursue/do ___". I hope and pray they see us working our butts off to pursue big, real, and hard dreams while also loving others and living in true community...and how fulfilling all of those difficult, complex things and relationships are because He provides the strength, grace, and stamina day by day, moment by moment. I hope they grow knowing in their core that these realities can be true for them.
I want our boys to know that there is no perfect order to life, there is no formula to "success" (whatever that is), there is freedom in releasing the pressure to perform "In Order." You don't have to have it altogether and let's be honest: no one does. Not really, not fully.
The actual possibility of these dreams coming to fruition fills our cups up full, even while our eyes burn with extreme exhaustion. I promise: I am tired. Don’t be fooled, these boys have broken my brain but grown my heart infinitely.
This may be our most difficult time of life so far, merely because of the all nighters and all dayers, but we have this beautiful strength because it is also the most treasured, joy-filled time. It is easily the most precious time of our marriage, these intense family building and dream-chasing years.
Also, sleep deprivation is a thing and I don't know if the words I've strung together here even make sense. We may look back and think we were crazy but I have a feeling we will be thankful too. And maybe laugh at ourselves.
Here is to many more long nights, fat juicy tired tears, being a big mess, and pursuing real dreams. We don't quite know what we are doing, but we are trying. Also, here's to welcoming any coffee or coffee cards you bring me ever. I will never again decline someone's offer of coffee. (So don't offer it if you expect me to be polite and say no).
If you get anything from this rambling post...I hope it is that you can do your thing. You can run your race. You can chase your passions and dreams and goals. Even if they are big. It is possible to both chase big and very real dreams while loving and serving the people in your life like Jesus did and does. You have one single life on this earth, unless you are a cat (apparently). Why not live this life to its fullest? I say that and I hear the cliche cheesy quote that it is, but I mean it with every syllable. Wake up and believe in yourself. Believe and have courage that everything you say and do matters. We have ripple effects, friends. Generation to generation. What will your ripple be? What crazy big dream will you chase? What is He calling your heart to and when will you start believing that you can do it and it is worth doing?