In 2019 Taylor Swift released an album called Lover. Lover is also the term ascribed to boys ages 5-8 in the book Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas:
“Lovers are more sensitive to the feelings and needs of others around them. They tend to be cheerful, full of life, and enthusiastic. They are much more chatty than they were in the Explorer stage and enjoy having conversations with other children and adults. Lovers enjoy painting, drawing (instead of just coloring), and reading (instead of just being read to), along with other forms of self-expression, such as dramatic play and pretending with other children.”
This is where we are right now. Hyatt is 5, and Lincoln 7. Two little Lovers.
When I think about 2019, I think about the phrase from The Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living.” We, along with our two chatty, relational, comic book creators have been busy living. Very busy. Bedtime still feels like a 4-hour marathon (as I write this, it’s 10 p.m. and I can hear the boys chatting and giggling in their bunk beds), but the days themselves have flown. I checked on this little corner of the internet, and I have only written two blog posts this year. Both were short, and one was a quote.
What in the world have we been doing?
I, for one, have been listening to some darn good audiobooks. Most notable recommendations from 2019:
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin
Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America by Chris Arnade
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The pain and hardship in the world is palpable and overwhelming, and I want God to fix it—visibly—right now. I cried in my car so many times this year listening to stories of injustice. I want to raise Lincoln and Hyatt to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). This is my prayer. We need to GET UP, and we need to pray for changed hearts. When we do this, we do not hope in vain. The promises are clear.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
If, for our little family, 2016 and 2017 were about survival, and 2018 and 2019 were about stabilization—now I crave the focus, energy, and wisdom to look out—to support others in our communities well. May we follow Jesus in this.
A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie is my favorite devotional right now. Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen brought much-needed refreshment to my soul. That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need to Know About Working Together by Joanne Lipman was a fascinating look at gender dynamics in the workplace. (I’m on a continual quest for The Golden Fleece—parenting well while also giving back professionally.) The New York Times 1619 podcast series was a hard, heartbreaking, helpful listen. Not mentioned: the 20 different books on my nightstand I zigzag in and out of.
I would love to know what you’ve been reading or listening to.
The Lovers have been enthralled with Dog Man and other graphic novels for kids. Inspired, they’ve created their own characters and comic books—and woken up tired with ink all over their hands. Perhaps the little LED lights over each of their beds was a bad idea.
As I look back, I’m especially thankful for new adventures and experiences.
And the people I met and the skills I learned at The Frontier Project.
ClassPass—and co-workers and friends who got me to barre, Pilates, gorgeous hikes, and races. I finally feel somewhat athletically capable again. Emphasis on somewhat.
Spring break with my best boys.
Friends who make a difference in the world.
A simply amazing women’s soccer team (and co-workers who got pumped about the World Cup with me).
The best teachers and caregivers for our boys.
As I look ahead, I don’t know if I’ll do more writing this year, or if I’ll be too busy patrolling bedtime and meal-prepping with my earbuds in. Of course I have grandiose aspirations of writing letters to my boys, working out five days a week, and picking up my paint brushes all while getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night and eating lots of veggies. But if I’ve learned anything from oh-so-many doctor’s appointments and my 2019 reading list, it’s a joy to just get busy living. Even if it takes simply being a boring, steady, supportive, somewhat organized, grown-uppy mom.
2019, that’s a wrap. 2020, here we come!