Lessons from a 1 year old.

A couple weeks ago I got to spend a few days with my nephew in Seattle. He’s the best. I hate living so far away from him and not being able to see him grow every day, but I cherish the time I do get with him. He’s so fun and it is fun to see the world through his eyes and all of the ways he continues to grow. I was there the week or so after he really started walking, so that was a fun time too to see him learn this new skill and take the world by storm in a new way.

Today is his first birthday (!!) so I figured it was appropriate to dedicate this post to him and what he has taught me. When I was spending time with him, I realized there’s a lot we can learn from a 1 year old. Since I love to make lists, I decided to make a list of life lessons from a 1 year old.

  1. Sometimes we just need to fall and trying to help can hurt more. Since he was just learning to walk, he fell…a lot. As someone who loves him and never wants to see him hurt, of course my reaction was to reach out and catch him or try to soften his fall, but I realized after awhile that, often times, that made him fall harder. (Sorry Jake and Em). Usually when he lost his balance and caught himself he was fine…he popped right up, ready to keep on walking like it was no big thing. I realized how often we can try to help someone or try to break their fall or fix it when they really don’t need our help. Sometimes helping can hurt and sometimes people need to fall on their own.
  2. Joy can be found in the simple things. My nephew and sis-in-law were in Michigan recently at her grandparent’s house and he loved this spoon he found so he got to take it back to Seattle with him. He loves a spoon…he also spent a lot of time entertained by my little shampoo bottle. These are not big, flashy, or expensive things, but simple, every day items. I think too often we get sidetracked by thinking that life is meant to be big and flashy, when joy and beauty is often found in the simple and every day.
  3. When in doubt…turn to wonder. Babies have so much to learn. Have you ever thought about all the things that we learn throughout life? That at one point you had to learn how to walk, learn to talk, to eat by yourself and learn how the things around you work. Sometimes I would see him look at something or hear something that he wasn’t sure about and then he would toddle over to check it out. Babies don’t have all the answers because they don’t know much yet, so they’re constantly turning to wonder and to curiosity. At some point in life, we lose this, we think we have all the answers or shouldn’t have any doubts, but that’s not reality…what would it look like if we turned to wonder more often? If we let ourselves do the work to figure things out and if we can’t figure them out, just turn to wonder and rest in the fact that we don’t have to know it all.
  4. Sometimes all the people in your life want is for you to show them love. He is a very active 1 year old…he isn’t about the cuddling life. Em would sit him on the edge of the couch every morning to wake me up and I just wanted to cuddle him, but he pushed away and wanted to be off exploring. I mean…I get it, there’s a lot to see out there! He doesn’t know any better, but it made me think about how much we want the people in our life to show us love, so are we returning the favor? Go hug someone. Go tell someone you love and appreciate them. It matters.
  5. Trust in who you follow. My nephew adores his mom and dad. He doesn’t hesitate to take their hand and walk around with them. When we put him down the slide, whoever was at the bottom would catch him and he hasn’t learned yet that maybe that person down there won’t catch me. He trusts in his parents and the people who dearly love him. I follow Jesus, but I don’t think I always trust him…not like a child trusts his mom or his dad. It’s a lesson I have to continually be reminded of.

So Happy Birthday buddy…you’re only 1 and you’re already teaching the world so much! I think we all need to strive to be more like little children and the world may become a more beautiful place.

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     Seriously…is he not the cutest? Such a cool kid. 🙂

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Shaped.

I’ve been thinking about what makes me who I am, about why I am the way I am. When I think about where I am today and who I am, my mind goes to the people who have impacted me, who have walked alongside me, sometimes having to push me from behind and sometimes having to stand on the sideline and cheer me on. The people who have loved me and who have shaped me. The people in my life who have helped me become who I am today and continue to impact, influence and walk with me on my journey of life.

I think about the wonderful men and women who decided that middle school students were worth paying attention to and loving all the way through until they graduated high school (and that we’re still worth loving). These people who stuck with me through my teenage years, who encouraged me, who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and helped this uncertain girl see she had potential. These people who showed up, who let crazy teenage girls meet in their home each week, who gave up their weekends to go on youth retreats, who invited me into their office to share my heart and just listen, and who flooded my life with words of encouragement. People who were mentors, confidants, counselors and friends in a time of life where having that older, wiser and steady voice does a lot of good.

I think about friends. Friends I can say I’ve known basically since day one of my life, friends who I’ve gone through Kindergarten, 5th grade, high school and college graduations with, friends who I said goodbye to for college but somehow we always find ways to be reunited, friends who I’ve known for a long time and some for not quite as long, but friends who have been there. Life long friends, friends who have loved me well and shown me that friends can be family.

I think about my teammates in Zambia. The three people I didn’t know one day and then the next lived with for eight weeks straight in a foreign country. People who blew me away with their acceptance, love and passion for life. People who taught me so much, who I experienced true community with and who made me feel like I belonged, in a season of life where I felt anything but, people who made me laugh until I cried, people who journeyed with me through an experience that will forever shape who I am.

The list could go on, really. So many people who are reminders that God must love me because he put so many amazing people around me. Reflecting on all of these individuals who have helped shaped who I am, I feel so much gratitude and it makes me hope and pray that I do the same for others.

And that I remember middle school girls are important to love, that making room for a high school student to be heard is so valuable, that walking with someone through the good times and the bad builds unbreakable bonds, that accepting people where they are for who they are is truly love, and that showing up is sometimes all someone needs. I can do this because others have shown me. I am who I am today, not just because of some experiences I’ve had or because I’m so great at life all by myself, but because of the beautiful, wonderful people in my life that I call mentor, family, friend, cell group leader, youth pastor and so on and so forth.  I just hope and pray that I can play a small role in “shaping” others, the way I have been so lucky to be shaped. 

A significant other.

I heard author, Shauna Niequist, speak at Lipscomb University recently. She is one of my favorite authors and I was excited for the chance to hear her in person. You can follow Shauna’s blog here and you should check out her books! Cold Tangerines is one of my favorite books ever. She has a way of writing about life, friendships, faith and hospitality that just makes sense and she’s great at sharing stories. Anyway…this isn’t about how much I love her, but seriously, check her out.

One thing she shared while she was speaking was this, “I want you to know and remember that just because you don’t have a significant other does not mean you are not significant.” It was refreshing to hear her say this and to know that her main audience of college students were hearing someone speak this truth over them.

I think this happens too much in the life of a young person. I know I have been made to feel like I’m not enough because I don’t have a significant other or I don’t have some “plan in place” for when I’ll have a significant other. It’s like my life hasn’t quite made it because I’m single, like my life isn’t quite as significant, like I’m in the waiting room for my life to finally be where it should be. I have been made to feel not enough or lacking.

Another wise woman in my life, my cousin Kendi, and she may not even remember saying this when we were together over Christmas, but we were talking about relationships and she said something like, “I don’t know why people act like having a “significant other” is the only significant relationship in someone else’s life.” My soul breathed a sigh of relief and shouted Amen!

Because that’s the other side of the coin, why do we treat other relationships as not quite as significant as a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife? Now, I know I’m speaking from someone who is lacking in both of those departments and I am in no way minimizing the importance of those relationships, but I think we need to get out of our box and realize we have a lot of significant relationships. In some ways, if someone were to ask me if I had a significant other I would say, yes, lots! (and then have a lot of explaining to do probably) 🙂 But there are so many people in my life that I consider significant and who bring significance to my life. Beautiful friends who pour into my life and meet me where I am and show me that it doesn’t just take blood to be considered family, a beautiful community who shows me what it’s like to be there for each other, to enter into each other’s happy and not so happy places and a beautiful blood-related family who from my earliest of days have shown me acceptance, love and joy. These people are my significant others.

So friends, please know that you are significant, with or without that “significant other”, know that you are enough just because you are you, know that just because you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife you are not lacking as a person or lacking of significant relationships. Pour into the people around you, love the people around you, make room for the people around you and you will find there are lots of people with significance in your life. 

Seasons.

I love the four seasons. I love looking forward to the seasons changing and knowing that even though I’m dying of heat in August that relief will be coming. It’s something to count on. Even though the weather can be screwy, you know the seasons will change at some point.

Fall.

Winter.

Spring.

Summer.

I’m coming to realize that in life we have seasons too. This may seem like to some of you an, of course, moment, but to me, someone who leans towards the comfortable and consistent, I’ve spent a lot of time resisting the change. I’ve spent a lot of time over thinking (because I over think everything) why things have to change and wishing they were the way they were before, but I’ve come to realize….that’s just now how life works.

Life changes. People change. Situations change. Some things are in your control, some things are not. My perspective is changing from not understanding this ebb and flow, to a perspective of looking forward to it.

For example, I hate summer. Seriously, just thinking about it makes me sweat and get angry. I hate being hot and in Nashville…it gets hot and humid. It’s not even enjoyable to be outside. It’s awful. Anyway…I’m trying to appreciate summer though because I think without summer I wouldn’t appreciate fall as much and I love fall. The cooler nights, the pumpkin scents and flavors, homemade applesauce, bonfires, scarves and boots, football, hot cider…oh the list goes on!

I think we go through seasons of life that we hate, that when we’re going through them we don’t understand why, that when it’s happening all we can think of is when will this be over? I think we go through seasons of life that are easy and everything seems to be working out great. I think we go through seasons where change happens and it’s hard and sometimes unwelcome and even when it’s welcome, it can be hard.

But I also think that’s how life works. Life is made up of seasons. Life is an ebb and flow and it changes. Embracing all these seasons of life has allowed me to fully live.