Friday, August 3, 2012


I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago after returning from my summer in the Netherlands with Justin. At the time, I meant to add photographs to the post, but the time got away from me and when I finally remembered, the feelings I describe below were no longer true so I never published my writing. Here I am a year later writing a post about being a mom of a 10 week old. When I read back over my words from last summer, I felt compelled to finally publish them because it took me back to the way I felt 365 days ago. It has not been an easy year. We have been faced with big decisions about our future all while trying to figure out how to become parents. While it has been thrilling and joyful, it has also been overwhelming and frightening. Re-reading my own words reminded me of the strength I have somewhere inside myself to embrace these big changes with open arms and an accepting heart.

It's ironic because when we moved to Ann Arbor three years ago, I spent a lot of my time and energy wishing we were back in Grand Rapids. Wishing life was what it used to be. Now that we are leaving Ann Arbor to start a new adventure in Detroit, I feel the same way about Ann Arbor that I did about Grand Rapids. I don't want to leave. It's home now, like I never thought it would be. The way I describe feeling in this post from last summer was something I never thought I'd feel again when we left Grand Rapids. But look how much has changed. Look how much we've been blessed with. Look how much we've overcome.

I have not lived this past year the way I  had hoped to when I wrote the words below, but there is grace for that. There is grace for all the times I fall short of being the best version of me. And there is grace to start over, because today is a new day and tomorrow will be too. And we have such a big, lovely life ahead of us to live. To really live.

Instead of posting all the pictures of last summer that I originally meant to, I've included pictures from this last year instead as a reminder of what a wonderful year it was.


[Den Haag, Netherlands]

Usually, returning home from vacation brings a little bit of sadness -- the end of something I looked forward to for so long. Even though I was very much looking forward to being home after our summer in Europe, I was nervous that wishing we were back in the Netherlands would override the enjoyment of being home.

some of my ann arbor lovelies

We had a wonderful summer. It was rich with spending endless hours together (a luxury we don't get to enjoy much at home in Ann Arbor due to school), meeting some wonderfully enjoyable colleagues, reveling in a calendar with a wide open schedule, traveling to new places with new adventures, and escaping from responsibilities and realities back home.

celebrating 10 years of friendship with my college roommates in East Lansing

Given the opportunity, I would do it all again. But I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy and enjoyable coming home has been.
seeing our future baby for the first time

The three months away refreshed my spirit. I've come home boasting a new perspective and clinging to a new found hope for a lovely future. I haven't felt more in love with my husband or more content with life since our years back in Grand Rapids.
visiting Elliott and Nicole in Sand Diego for Thanksgiving

I guess there is something about being away that really makes me appreciate being home. There is a sensation of everything being the same yet somehow a little different. It's like I'm viewing our life here through a new lens. A lens that makes the sun a little brighter, the trees a little greener, and my surroundings a little bit lovelier.
going to Vegas to celebrate my dad getting married to Caroline

This week whether I was walking the sidewalks of downtown Ann Arbor, driving home from work with the windows down, meeting up with my best friends for dinner and a movie night, sitting at my desk at work greeting fellow colleagues who I haven't seen in months, or even strolling through the grocery aisles at my local Kroger, I found small smiles creeping over my lips. My heart is full. I am content. I am home.
spending time with friends in Detroit over Christmas

celebrating Christmas with family

Even the simple parts of our life here in Ann Arbor are giving me great joy. A quick errand to the post office, anticipating the beginning of Justin's school year, driving past familiar places, doing laundry.
celebrating my 29th birthday with a surprise getaway to a local B&B

I don't know how long these feelings will last, but I've been soaking them in while they do. And they have inspired me to take this upcoming year and make it a good one. It could be our last year in Ann Arbor as J finishes up school. I want to spend it making new recipes, doing craft nights with my Ann Arbor girls, going to see every new movie with my best friends...just because we can, planning date nights with Justin, biking along the river path, going to good concerts on a whim and loving the view from our apartment balcony.
a last minute trip to Myrtle Beach with Emily [photography courtesy of Emily]

This renewed sense of self has made me a little less fearful and more willing to approach our big future with open arms. I find myself more trusting of Justin and more confident in being me. Both of these things lead to a better attitude towards others and an ability to take things in stride, be patient, lighten up, and enjoy the moments.
celebrating the marriage of Kristen and Dave

Instead of viewing adulthood as years of daunting responsibility, endless to-do lists, scary risks, and uncomfortable sacrifices, I'm beginning to feel the way I felt several years ago. I knew that even though there would be hard, hurtful, wounding moments that those would be accompanied by and swallowed up with hard-earned life lessons, beautiful messes, deep-deep joy, endless laughter, life-long friendships that change and twist into something you can't describe, and sacrificial love experienced through my roles as a wife and some day as a mother. I finally feel like myself again.

Justin gets his Masters in Architecture!!

I can only speak for myself, but J has mentioned a similar bout of feeling refreshed. This summer did us well. We're ready to welcome the next steps in this journey we call life. We're ready to forgive more, love bigger, stare our fears in the face, spend less time wishing we were elsewhere with more money and time, and ready to dive into adventures together, big and small.

pregnant with little D [photo courtesy of Emily]

It's a gift. I didn't plunge into this summer's adventure with the expectations of coming out on the other side with a new perspective. It just sort of happened...undeservedly. And this blessing I'm so deeply feels good.

celebrating our 3rd anniversary

I will relish the deep, genuine sentiment of restoration that has been sent through my being and try to keep it lingering as long as I can before the monotony and responsibilites of life take over again and cloud up this lens.
welcoming our little boy into the world

Today I am grateful for feeling refreshed...[again].

I can't help to end with this quote from my favorite blogger that so eloquently says what I feel:
"I like the middle space that wedges between Away and Home, the few days of reestablishing routine and unraveling the last threads of adrenaline after an adventurous trip while simultaneously regaining footing in the familiar comforts of home. Sure, it comes with unpacking and recuperation, catching up on mail and household tasks. But it's a place of acute awareness--reflection on both observations of new places and people as well as reminders of the things that draw us home--the grounding, guiding, calming elements from which we come--the foundation of who we are, where we live, what makes us come alive." -- Kelle Hampton, Enjoying the Small Things