Thursday, December 30, 2010

A review of 2010

So, what happens in a marriage between a city-boy from the Southeast, who's used to traveling abroad and enjoying the culture of the big city life, and a country-girl from the Northwest who's used to vacations that consist of camping on the nearest empty mountain with a three-walled outhouse (if you are lucky) and only bothering with a tent if there is snow?

Well, I'll tell you in a minute.

First I can just imagine all the people in Washington responding to that last sentence by saying “Hey, we DO go on other vacations! We go skiing and save up for trips to the Washington and Oregon coast. Not that there's anything wrong with camping in the boonies though. What could be better company than God's creation?” And I can imagine many of the people reading this from Dallas thinking “What would you do outside?” This is really funny to me right now, so even if you aren't thinking those things, you can laugh with me as I write this. From here on out expect the “Washington thoughts” to be in blue (for the bitter cold snow and weather there) and expect the “Texas thoughts” to be in red (for the nasty heat and humidity of course.)

The beginning of this year of 2010 began with that very dilemma. We were living in my parents' basement so that we could save money and pay off debt and couldn't afford to live somewhere else while being able to do those two things. It was clear to me that we couldn't continue forever in that same position. Youssef was thriving as a reporter, loving his job and coworkers and boss and the community that he'd become apart of, but even with these things, he still missed being in Dallas and such a big city. “Crazy, man.. I just don't get it.” - “Once a Texan, always a-- wait, his name is what? Do you go to church?” So for better or for worse, I made a plan to work double time on the savings so that we could make the move to Dallas work out.

While I was saving for those 6 months and mentally preparing for a move half-way across the country and leaving everything I knew, I started teaching Lily her letters (she turned 4 at the beginning of 2010) and I began getting into a little more of a routine with reading to the girls (Renna turned 2 in March 2010) and school time. I helped with the kids choir at church and became more involved in the music there with my sister-in-law and following God's leading with sharing and how he wanted me to use my gifts. The girls and I grew closer to my family, and our friendships became deeper. I also learned a lot in that time about relying on God's grace in my life and realizing that anything that I did was all through Him working in me. This applied to the struggles of “trying to be a good wife/mother” in every day life and I realized more fully what Jesus meant when He said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” For too long I'd been trying to do good things in my own strength and not through God's grace. After realizing this more fully and every day having to remember to rely on His strength rather than my own in everything I did, I found that I was able to do those things that I'd struggled so hard with before. It probably wouldn't look different to anyone else, but it felt quite different to me. The stress and striving and guilt and all the other feelings that come with trying to be perfect on my own were eliminated when I would remember to allow God to work through me.

I don't think Youssef fully realized that he was moving until I'd gotten everything packed into his car. I know quitting the job that he loved so well and leaving us (not knowing when we'd be back together again for sure) was the hardest thing he had ever done. This separation was even more difficult because it was during those first months of my third pregnancy. (We are due to have our third daughter the end of April 2011!) While it was hard to pack and move in that time and be apart, we were both quite excited to know of our third blessing that was coming. Youssef got a job within the first two weeks after moving to Dallas as a research analyst for a graphics and design company. Within just two months, the girls and I were moved into our little apartment here. Again, I don't think Youssef fully realized we were coming until we were actually here. Youssef misses being a reporter every single day and night but is enjoying being in a busy (“big, noisy, stinky, hot, dirty, flat, city.” “colorful, active, fast-paced, eclectic, artistic city.”) place that we are now living in and ESPECIALLY being able to see his family and friends, which he could never afford or had the time off to see before.

The hardest thing about this move has been watching Lily miss her friends and family and getting sad every time she sees pictures of the fun things we used to do. On the plus side, it's been great to see the girls relying more on each other as playmates (since that's pretty much all they have at this point) and seeing Renna grow close to her big sister as well. Lily is falling in quite well to the role of being a great big sister.

Lily is quite helpful and VERY active. She always is working on projects and art and asking to do more school and is quite creative. She also loves to play games and LEGOs with her Daddy and listen to me read books aloud. We are reading some of the Tinkerbell fairy books aloud along with the usual picture books. She enjoyed listening to “The Christmas Carol” throughout December and asking questions about it. Lily will be turning 5 January 4th, and though our school time has been pretty sporadic, what with the move and all, she can write and read her name very well and almost has all the phonetic sounds of the letters down already! Lily is really excited about her little sister coming and especially about the visit we are going to make up to Washington in January (just us girls.) As tiring as her energy makes me sometimes, I really enjoy having such a creative little craft buddy. I'm constantly running out of projects for her to do though and having to make another trip to the dollar store to collect more coloring books or painting things for her! One of the girls favorite things here has been seeing so many squirrels in the parks and around our apartment.

Renna makes up sweet little songs and both girls sing a lot and like to pretend together with their little toys and dolls and make them “talk” together. Renna is still quite dramatic and feels things deeply, yet most of the time I'm learning that her “drama” is actually her way of being humorous. I'm learning to parent her a little differently as well so that her humor and imagination is nurtured. Focusing on that rather than the drama that isn't appropriate has been helpful. She's grown and matured so much in just this past year and it's wonderful to see her sweet temperament coming out. She reminds me some of how Anne of Green Gables was with her highs and lows. Dramatic despair moments and then be on the wings of jubilant excitement. Sometimes I wonder how that is possible though (really) to be crying and upset and then when a nap is suggested her face completely will change to a grin and an assurance that she's “happy!” But this definitely keeps the day's interesting! I love hearing her sweet thank you's and reminders to pray before we eat and her love of all things “tiny.” I think once she fully accepts that she's not the baby anymore she will be a wonderful and helpful big sister after Grace is born.

Along with adding a school time for the girls this year, I was quite busy creating new works of art to sell which are now in Cafe' Brazil near down town Dallas in the bishop art's district. And before you ask, I'll tell you... they were selling better in Spokane. Ha! I knew it. Dallas isn't even better for that! - What? You must just need to do a little more advertising is all. Becoming a famous artist though doesn't appeal to me as much as using my art and creativity to bless my family with scrapbooking and making story books for my children. Most of my day is taken up with making food or cleaning up after food or the girl's messes, and when I squeeze in something creative the tidiness of the house (that I'm not great at keeping up anyway) goes down hill a bit more, but that's all right because I have everything that I'd always wanted - a loving husband and children!

I'm often asked “So, how are you liking Texas?” and I should probably answer that question better here. I generally answer with something polite about the few things that I'm enjoying here. I like seeing the friends that I made back in the day and also making a few new friends. Most of my appreciation about where we are now is simply because we are in a normal apartment instead of an unfinished basement, but that doesn't have much to do with Texas or Dallas specifically. The novelty of the many buildings and lights has worn off on the girls a bit. Essentially there's a lot of traffic and way too many people. That's RIGHT! Run away while you still can! In general it's too hot but I've enjoyed the cool fall-ish days that they call winter here. I also enjoyed taking the girls to go swimming at the hot tub here at the apartment when we first moved down in October. But, of course, I knew that I was a country girl when I made this move happen. Yet, would it have been more fair to insist we stay where we were so that Youssef could continue to give up what he wanted so I could be where I wanted?

Morpheus - "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

So, back to the question at the beginning of this letter. The answer that we came to was to move here so that Youssef could not only see his friends and family and enjoy the city life but also work toward becoming a teacher so that we'd have the summers off to travel back to see my family. I know he'd love to use those summers to do some work at The Miner as well since he misses reporting so much. It could help them during their busiest time of year and also earn us a little extra money to help with the travel expenses. I'm anticipating that time in the summers as the girls and my favorite memories when they've grown up, but being in Dallas for the school year will give the girls other opportunities that Youssef would like them to have. He's currently going through the process of getting a teacher's certification so that he can teach high school English. He would still love to become a professor at a university and the longer term goals might include a doctorate in the philosophy of education so that he can eventually teach teachers. This is a lot to accomplish of course, but each stage of our lives felt like it had a lot in it and sometimes difficulties that (at the time) seemed impossible to overcome.

The names of our daughters reminds us of those times in our lives and how we learned to trust God through it all.

LilyAnne was born when we were dealing with a lot of financial problems and the triplex and so on, but her name reminds us of how God clothes the lilies of the field and Anne means graceful as well which reminds us of those times when we lived on God's grace and the help we received from our Christian friends.

Renna means song and her middle name means "beautiful one from heaven” and she was born in a time in our lives when we were learning to praise God and be content, and specifically when I was starting to sing again because I'd finally worked through some hurts in my past.

Now Grace Natalie is on her way and as always we are in need of God's gift of grace in our every day lives. Not only for the future plans, but for right now as well and finding a balance to what we both want.

Sarek to Spock from "Star Trek" - "You will always be a child of two worlds. I am grateful for this, and for you"

At every stage of our lives God has proven Himself to be faithful and going with us no matter what “mistakes” we might make along the way and no matter where we go. In the end, it's not about where we live that puts us “in” or “out of” God's will, but rather being who He's created us to be. A lot of my journey as a wife has been understanding Youssef more and going on that journey with him so that he is where he wants to be and where his full potential can be met. Even defending his need to move to Dallas to the other people that we were around in Washington. (“Why do you want to move THERE? Gross.” “Now, why hadn't you moved here sooner?” Yes, sorry to burst your bubble, dear Texans.. it's really only the Texans that like Texas so much.. not the rest of the world “AMEN!” “They just haven't lived here yet.”) As much as Youssef talked about why it would be “better” to live in Dallas (jobs are more plentiful, more potential to provide for us, etc.) it has never been about that at the heart of it all. At the center of it was finding a life that answers the question at the beginning of this letter. I think it does make Youssef feel better though to hear the “You lived on WHAT a year in Washington? How is that possible?” when he would try to explain the circumstances of our move to people here rather then “Yeah, it can be pretty tough when you are first married... why I remember when...” But yes, it really was never about the money so much as trying to find a life and job that could answer our dilemma. Youssef lived for 6 years in Washington often being misunderstood and I suppose I will experience some misunderstanding as well living here, but I know that if this is better for Youssef then it is better for our whole family.

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' So we can say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?'"

I will probably always rather live in Washington, and maybe we will again someday, but we're going through this stage first. And as always, God has come with us, giving us the grace to face each day and each new challenge because He is in us and we are in Him.


RickCapezza said...


So much in this post resonates with our situation, though in an opposite sort of way. I grew up in the city and moved to the Northwest. And while I love a lot of things about the Northwest, I don't enjoy the stuff Northwesterners like about the Northwest: nature, privacy, the sense that there's nothing better "out there." So I know what it's like to feel a bit out of place. I feel out of place when I'm not in the big-city, overly-social rush.

Your "Texas pride" comments crack me up. It truly is a "whole 'nother country."

I think I also know what it's like to have a man on the one side wanting to move forward with life, but feeling stuck in a situation where he feels like he can't really move forward because of limitations on every side (Eastern Washington) and a girl that just loves the simple life of being close to family and a beautiful surrounding.

For awhile, we have chosen to be up here in Washington, but we're realizing it's a place where we can't realize our dreams. It'll mean moving, but we're going to TRY to make that move a little closer to Spokane--or at least a little closer culturally (somewhere in the northern half of the US and West of the Great Lakes).

But who knows, life takes you where it takes you, if you're really living it.


RickCapezza said...

I am not sure why that's signed "T" lol (unless I subconsciously used my confirmation name: "Thomas").

Lynne' said...

Rick, I think you were the only friend that we had that really "got" what Youssef was trying to express about living there. :]

And, Youssef helped with the Texas comments. It was fun. ;]

Carla said...

It is always a challenge to "marry" two different people and their varied experiences and pasts into a life together. But it is such an opportunity to bloom and grow in so many ways. I am praying that you both will find the treasures in your individual and joint challenges. You are so right about what it is all about anyway - Christ in us, the hope of glory.