Big Stuff is Happening

Oh my. This Fall has felt heavy with decisions to make and new ventures to plan. It has been busy, but busy is really not the right word to describe it all. It’s the meaning and weight behind it all that has made it feel all-encompassing. And, truly, it is only good and exciting stuff! No tragedy or trauma. And woven throughout it all, our daily lives have been quite sweet and almost…normal. Still, I had a hard time finding the energy to bring our stories to this space. I hope to regain momentum for this in the coming weeks, as our lives begin their drastic change. Documenting the change and sharing our experience with loved ones seems like it will be a comforting practice during this time. But, no more dancing around it all, here’s what’s been brewing…

  • I have been dedicating a good chunk of time to launching my business: Sweet Water Offering. I have been seeing many bodywork clients, as well as a few health coaching clients. I even taught a local class this Fall – a series on taking processed sugar out of your diet. It was a new challenge, but one I’ve found fun and invigorating. I’ve also been working on my website and strategizing for an online presence with my friend and business partner Katie Palmer. Here’s our site, if you haven’t seen it, yet: http://sweetwateroffering.com/.
  • We’ve been adjusting to TWO kids in school. They’ve both had a great year, but it’s been a new form of juggling for us to keep their school routines on track and organized and to make time for hearing about their experiences and helping them cope with new struggles (like organization at school and interpersonal situations). So far, I actually really enjoy having school-aged children, but it is a different experience than being a mom to littles. Also, Simeon has been adjusting to being an only child for 7 hours each day. He doesn’t like it very much. He likes having other kids around and usually goes in search of friends in out building!
  • Josh and I did a very intensive “anti-racism training” this Fall. It was a great experience that will surely effect our future approach to life and community. We were given a lot to think about and take to heart, as well as the opportunity to move forward in new ways.
  • Finally, most of our energy the Fall was directed toward our hopes of starting a new Christian community in Little Rock, Arkansas. We are covenant members of Reba Place here in Evanston, which means that we share our money and decision-making in common with our community. We committed to be here “until God calls us elsewhere,” with the understanding that we felt called to start a community someday. Well, “someday” is here! And, we have discerned a plan and received an unfathomable gift of support and sending in a unanimous vote from the 50 or so other covenant members. A large part of that discernment was deciding to buy a house in Little Rock that seems right for hospitality and is in the neighborhood we selected through prayer and conversation and meeting neighbors and walking around. Our community here is helping us to make this happen in a unique and creative way – just the sort of thing they are best at. And we are deeply grateful.
  • SO, recent weeks have been spent making an offer on a house, making plans for renovations, and setting up a transition plan for our family over the coming months. We plan to move at the end of January. There are a million other things I could say about the process and the unknowns and the hopes and the dreams and the people who are dreaming with us. But, this is enough for now.

Really, it all just feel so epic I have a hard time putting it into words: a new business doing things that I love, a chance to live near my family again for the first time since summer breaks in college, a location to call home, the promise of new community and new manifestation of God’s work in the world. The sadness and brokenness of the world swirls around us constantly, and I know it is bigger than I can fathom. Still, I feel a peace that we are walking on the path God has laid before us. And, in this moment, I feel excited about offering the simple gifts we have to others. Please pray for our family during this time. We know that excitement will give way to long days and lost routine and hard work and missing friends and wishing for familiar things. Recently, Jedidiah said that he wished he had more real adventure in his life. So, we’re all trying to look at this as a real adventure. Pray that we would be able to remember that perspective on the hard days.

 

And one more epic thing…I got my long hair cut off!Photo on 2014-10-16 at 07.59 #3

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Meaningful Work

TBWhands

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to do Thai Bodywork. I attended classes, completed many practice hours, and performed several final massages on instructors, until I was approved to practice. In September, I received my official certification!

I’ve been starting off a little slow on the business side, but now I’m feeling geared up to give this aspect of my life more time and space. I wanted to wait until our baby boy was a year old, and here we are! So, Josh helped me to take some photos and put together a website: http://namwaanthaibodywork.com/. He also helped me to put together a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NamwaanThaiBodywork.

Thai bodywork is a unique art – there is pressure and motion and stretching and active participation. I love doing this kind of work. I like the puzzle of hearing people’s pain issues and then finding ways to help relieve the pain and tension in their bodies. I love that I get to work face to face and one on one with people in a way that connects the physical, spiritual, and emotional. I feel rejuvenated after each session, not drained or bored. I’m so thankful that I get to do this amazing work as a job!

Over the past few years, my interest in natural health and healing has grown and grown. The pursuit of the bodywork training has been part of that journey. I have also become particularly interested in the area of food as medicine. I am insatiable for learning as much as I can about food, systems in the body, and chronic illness. I am already working on a plan to expand my natural health business to include health coaching and perhaps functional diagnostic nutrition, a field in functional medicine. I am praying and reading and hoping with everything in my being that God will bring things together and open up this path for me.

I have also enjoyed attending a few births. I have another coming up in February. But, as I have examined the possibility of being a doula or midwife, I have not felt a further leading in that direction. I rejoice to accompany friends during the births of their children, but I have reservations about making this my work during this tender phase of parenting young children. Birth work is unpredictable, and steals me away for long periods of time. Josh and I are open to more of this when our children are older. Some say midwives in the past were often grandmothers, as that stage gave them more freedom to be gone for long hours and the wisdom to assist younger women after having gone through the childbearing experiences themselves.

Meaningful work is hard to come by. And, I realize not everyone gets the privilege of finding it. I am daring to dream a bit here. It is not what I would have expected to do with m life at 18 or even 25, but this path feels congruent with the person God made me to be and with how I see the world as a follower of Jesus. I hope to be able to use the skills I learn to gift the downtrodden and lonely and heavy burdened, as well.

Will you pray with me as I take these first steps down a new road?

Troubleshooting Colic

screaming-baby

I have never understood colic. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I believed that it was a real thing. The definition is so obscure…

Colic: a condition of a healthy baby in which it shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks.

But, when our little Simeon remained a fussy babe week after week, people started throwing out the term. It’s a good thing he’s our third baby, though, because I hadn’t really felt very worried or even frustrated. Despite daily crying spells and trouble burping after eating, I was still enjoying every moment of his cute, chubby, baby self. And, when he did settle down, he was such a cuddly little fellow that I couldn’t help but be in love with him.

At my 6 week post-partum visit (which was really 8 weeks after Simeon was born), my midwife and her assistant both expressed a little concern about this prolonged fussiness and gassiness. They helped me to work on his latch some, after noticing that he was getting a little air while nursing. They also highly recommended a chiropractor in the area.

At that point, I decided to focus a little more on helping our sweet babe to feel better. I had been doing infant massage with him daily since he was born. So, I started a regular routine of massaging him in the evenings and then giving him a calming bath. I also made a point to work on his latch more directly. The massages and baths helped some, but the the latch was still not improving.

So, we went to the chiropractor. I have to admit that I was skeptical, and, even now, the whole thing seems a bit mysterious.

BUT, it worked.

The chiropractor said that Simeon was especially tight on one side of his body (this could have been the result of something in utero or part of the birth experience – it’s hard to know). With a few gentle touch adjustments with breaks between them, the chiropractor made a world of difference. Simeon went to see her 4 or 5 times in all, and now he doesn’t need to go back.

And, it’s like we have a different baby! I mean, he is still super sweet and cuddly…but now he is also happy and smiley and rarely fussy. And, because he has no trouble burping, he goes right back to sleep after eating….which MEANS that we’re getting a whole lot more sleep around here!

Just yesterday, I said to Josh, “Remember when we thought Simeon was our fussy baby?” And he, like me, had already kinda forgotten about how hard it was there for a few weeks.

What a blessing to see such a change so quickly. Oh, and the adjustments have even improved Simeon’s latch a great deal. I have to say, this chiropractor really won me over.

 

 

Wrapping Things Up

We are quite busy these last few weeks as a family of 4. We have lots of household projects to complete, various meetings and appointments to fit in, and quite a few fun Fall events to enjoy…not to mention all the regular busy-ness of life with young children. Here’s some of what we are up to…

  • I have been finishing up my hours and classes for the Thai Bodywork program (click here for more information). I have basically completed all of my courses and all of my independent practice hours, but I will still need to do an apprenticeship and final testing after the baby arrives. At this point, I am taking a break for a few months. Here is a picture of me with one of my classes:

  • One benefit of my Thai Bodywork training is that I’ve been doing quite a few massage trades with other therapists. That means that I’m getting some great prenatal massages here in the last weeks of my pregnancy.
  • Josh has been planning all sorts of Shalom Mission Communities events. He is now the coordinator for our network of sister communities, which includes Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco, Plow Creek in rural Illinois, Hope Fellowship in Waco, Valle Nuevo in El Salvador, and Third Way in Minneapolis. He has been busy with all sorts of exciting plans and get-togethers coming up in the next year.
  • I have been enjoying continued involvement with the moms group and cooperative play school that I’ve been a part of for several years, now. I am thankful for so much great support and inspiration from this amazing group of moms.
  • Josh is continuing to do art in his free time. Of course, he longs for more time in his studio, but the paintings he has had time to do are fantastic! He is hoping to enter one in a competition before little bit arrives.
  • We got to go see the Story Pirates again this year. This was Jedidiah’s third year to watch this fun show – improv actors doing skits of stories written by children. It was Lilia’s first time to attend. It was such a fun show!

  • I had a beautiful Mother Blessing on Sunday evening. I’m excited to share some pictures and stories. I feel deeply grateful for the community of love that surrounds us here and rejoices with us as our family grows.
  • After posting about my to-do list for the last month before baby, I was approached by a Reba friend who reads this blog. She offered to pull together a team of folks to paint some of our walls! They will be painting all day on Halloween. What an amazing gift to our family!!
  • We are trying to do all our “last chance” wishes before the baby is born. Tonight, Josh is going to a movie with a friend. We are planning a few nice date nights. Our neighbors have also offered to take our kids for 24 hours so that we can have a day and night away. I’m fitting in lots of “coffee dates” with friends and a few last Jazzercise classes.
  • Halloween and Fall festivities in the next week have the kids quite excited. I’ll definitely post pictures of the costumes they come up with.
  • Today we had a great meeting with all of our birth support. Everyone came to our home to talk about the upcoming birth. In addition to our little family, we had our amazing midwife Sarah, two midwife assistants, and our dear friend and doula Anna. I’m excited about this group and about having each of these people support us as we welcome our baby boy into the world.
  • Finally, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of a fun role Josh had recently. He got to be a judge for a Reba pie contest! For those of you who know him, you’ll know that this was right up his alley!

 

We have nothing planned after the baby arrives – besides a few exciting visits from family. Our calendar is practically blank after about the 10th of November. We are busy bees until then, but then everything goes black as we wait for the baby and then adjust to life as a family of FIVE! Thanks for encouragement and prayers during this time of transition.

All Around Update

Th next month is full of life for our family! We are excited and busy as we prepare, our tummies full of butterflies as we think of all that is to come…

  • In less than a week, our oldest, Jedidiah, will turn six. He will have a PIRATE birthday party at the end of the month. He has been planning the details for weeks and weeks now.
  • We are headed on an epic adventure to the mountains of New Mexico. The four (and a half) of us will be taking the Amtrak all the way to Santa Fe, and then staying about a week in the Taos area. This is our vacation, and it is a chance to explore the possibility of starting an intentional Christian community in Northern New Mexico. We will be visiting a family that we met for a few hours in Taos back in January (you can read that story here). We are expecting lots of great time outdoors, as well as a continuing conversation about what a future for our family in Taos might look like. A move is still at least a year away for us, but it feels like a huge deal to be considering this at all. We’d appreciate your prayers.

  • The day after we get back, I will be taking my longest and most intense Thai Bodywork class so far. This and one more class, plus some practice massages and final exam massages on instructors are all that are standing between me and then end of this amazing program. I am learning a great deal and still enjoying gifting friends and family with these healing massages. You can read more of the story here.
  • Finally, in about one month, our Jedidiah will begin the bigKINDERGARTEN!! We cannot believe how much he has grown and changed and become even more himself this year! We are still waiting to make a final decision on his schooling for next year. The trip to New Mexico and a few other factors will weigh heavy on our discernment process in the coming weeks. He is fully enrolled to go the local public school, but depending upon the factors just mentioned we may homeschool for this year. Again, prayer are appreciated!

It’s a big month for our family. We are growing and changing, almost visibly, as we explore new worlds, become older, gain new friends, acquire new skills, and grow a little baby brother. We are hanging on for dear life and trusting our Father in heaven who is always faithful.

Top 10 Reasons I Am Behind on Blogging REASON #6: April

April is a busy month for us. Easter, Lilia’s birthday, Josh’s birthday, lots of other family birthdays, a five-day intensive Thai bodywork course, the annual all-fellowship retreat that I am planning, and also a visit from my mom…Really, these are ALL great things, things I want to enjoy and savor. But, so many things in a row feel a bit draining for this introvert and mother of two young children. I am wearing thin but praying for strength and stamina to enjoy the exciting events happening in the second half of the month!

The next event on the schedule is Josh’s birthday on Thursday, followed by the visit from my mom (“Nana Lou Anna”) who flies in on Friday. And, really, she has had a more intense April than I have. She was just in Ireland visiting my sister and brother-in-law, then headed straight to D.C. for time with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and lots of important work meetings, and then she flies straight here to see us and go to more meetings! I am praying that we can both relax and be present despite all the busy-ness surrounding our time together. And, I am looking forward to practicing all my new Thai massage techniques on my mom! And, of course, the kids can’t wait to see their Nana Lou Anna.

Lilia with her beloved Nana at Christmas.

Top 10 Reasons I Am Behind on Blogging REASON #8: Thai Bodywork Training

About a year and a half ago, I learned about a Thai massage school just a few blocks from where we live. A fellow momma friend was taking classes there and gushing about how great the place was – a nationally-known school with great teachers just blocks away. All of this brought back memories of our time in Thailand; I’d had several Thai massages while we were there. I was eager to learn more. So, I signed up for a practice massage session with this friend, and I was completely floored! It was, honestly, the best massage I had ever experienced. I felt relaxed for at least a week afterwards (usually I feel like massages “wear off” after a few hours). And there were more benefits: clients stay fully clothed in comfortable clothes or pajamas, the massage is done on the floor (no need for a table), and the massage is actually beneficial for the practitioner (using bodyweight and stretching instead of hand-strength).

So, I decided to try one class and see what I thought. I took that class last April, and I have enjoyed and practiced the skills I learned ever since. I have practiced on friends and family members and heard great reports. But, all I’d had was an introductory class – I wanted to learn more techniques and theory about how to correct problem areas. So, I took another class in February (Thai Herbal Compress) and a third class in March (Hands Free – using feet, elbows, knees, etc. for a deeper massage). This has all been so much fun for me to learn and to share with others. I will take another class in April, bringing me to about half-way through the program!

I’m hoping that this might be a good part-time job for me in my years as a stay-at-home mom. But, right now, I’m still learning and practicing. So, next time I see you, be sure to get in line for a massage!

Here is the website of the school I am attending: http://www.thaimassageschool.net/.