Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Valentine

I think it's a fairly common phenomenon, but Jon and I have always had slightly different expectations for Valentine's Day. Jon wanted basically nothing to do with it, stating that he loves me every day and didn't want a commercial holiday to obligate him into some cheesy signs of affection. I wanted to do something sweet, savoring the extra incentive to spend time together and celebrate how awesome it is to be in love with each other. In the past we have met half-way and done something small and silly, but mostly just prioritized spending time together.

This year, neither of us felt up for much of anything. We were getting over a bad headcold in our house and Eli had not been sleeping well. If some friends of ours had not offered to watch Eli so we could go out, we probably would not have done a thing. Since Presidents Day gave us a Monday off, we went out to dinner on Monday night while the Jemisons babysat Eli. We got dressed up and off we went.

It felt SO good to be going out just the two of us. We even were matchy-matchy just for fun. We felt such a relief as we pulled down the driveway, free to just be us and not have to be watching the clock... or the carseat mirror. Jon put on our wedding song, The Nearness of You by Louis and Ella. Swoon. Ok so maybe he can be a little V-Day cheesy when he wants to.

We ended up at McEwens downtown and ate a delicious meal sprinkled with laughter and stories and hand-holding like we were young kids on a date again. We had forgotten just how important it was to be out just us two. It was like we remembered why we fell in love and made another human being together in the first place. Seriously, my husband is the funniest and most ridiculous human I know and it was so worth it to marry him. I mean, I got to witness the hilarity of Jon singing with great exaggeration a pop song on the restaurant radio while a nearby table full of old business men glanced over with confused and judging looks. I have missed Jon's many antics in the fray of our busy lives lately.

When we finished up dinner, we deemed it too cold to go on a walk and opted instead for a drive across the Mississippi on the bridge to Arkansas. Strangely, the streetlights lights were off so it was eerier than normal and not quite the thrill we had hoped. Jon then suggested that we try visiting one of the casinos across the state line. I started musing on what kind of characters we would find in a casino on a Monday night at 10pm in Arkansas. Yep.

Neither of us had ever been to a casino before and were a bit put off by the wall of cigarette smoke that greeted us at the door, but our moods perked up when we realized that we get $20 in free play since we were first-timers. We tried a variety of 1¢ slot machines that honestly didn't make a lot of sense to us and somehow came out $44 richer as a result. Woo! I never thought that would be an activity we would choose on a Valentine's Day date, but I loved how spontaneous and silly the whole thing was.

Clearly, Jon and I need to go on more date nights. I'm absolutely convinced that I married the perfect man for me and I never get tired of spending time with him. We have loved being parents together and watching Eli grow, but we also still get super giddy just being the two of us. Cheers, to many more dates with my love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Nighttime Lessons from a Head Cold

It's just after 3 am and I'm awake and sipping on yet another a cup of tea with honey in an effort to soothe this hacking cough. Elias and have I both picked up a cold that turned into fever and chills. It's been a rough few days. Next to me in bed, my sweet husband is trying to sleep through the many sounds. My hacking, the baby's soft sniffly whine on the monitor, the kettle heating up again in the kitchen. Then I hear the frustrated cries of my darling child begin to swell as he struggles to breathe.

Initially, I was exasperated to hear Eli up again after I had just finally got my cough contained enough to sleep. Bleary-eyed, I went in to his room and began feeling around in the dark for his little hands and face. He wrapped his arms around my neck and buried his face into my shoulder in relief as I carried him to the chair to nurse. His whining ceased. The coughing temporarily stayed.

His limbs began to go limp in sleep and peace as I held him and my perspective suddenly shifted. My exhaustion turned to joy and I thanked God for providing such a moment with my son. It was such a vibrant reminder of my own helplessness and times of crying out in the night. No matter how hard the circumstances or how dark the night, the Lord has never abandoned me. Every hour of need and feeble cry, He has been there. And it strengthened me.

My son needed me, whether I wanted him to or not. Whether I had the energy or none at all. My aching body shaking with chills and holding him in the dark was what he needed. And because of love, I was there. I never thought I would thank God for having a bad head cold, but in that moment I did.

It was a lesson and reminder that I desperately needed. I am not alone. I am loved. Being a mom has been such a challenging time for me full of sleepless nights and exasperation. But it has also been a season of learning the Gospel anew and leaning in to the hard times.

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