29. Enjoy life with Russell

Cheers to 30

After six years of blogging toward 30, I’m almost there. Tomorrow, I reach this milestone that I thought was so huge when I was 24.

It has been a decade of figuring out who I really am, what I want to do, and who I want to be. I had to figure out how to adult and take care of myself. And now, how to take care of someone else. It was almost a full decade of figuring out how to really love and know someone else. It was figuring out how to really love and know myself.

And it required a lot of trial and error. A lot of change.

When I look back on the past decade, I’ve lived in 5 cities, and at least twice as many dorm rooms, apartments, and houses. I’ve traveled to four continents, somewhere around 20 countries, and met countless people along the way. I’ve lost friends and made friends. I’ve had not only several jobs, but several career paths – all abandoned for a volunteer ministry in Purpose Coffee and the occasional consulting work, stuck in between feedings, diaper changes, and naps. I’ve struggled. And succeeded. Fell on my knees in desperate prayer, and then again in overwhelming thanksgiving.

From sorority girl, to single in the city, to business woman, to farmwife, to stay at home mom. Just when I hit my grove and think I’ve got it figured out, life seems to change pretty drastically.

Through all of this change, I’ve learned a lot about myself. And maybe a little about life in general. As I look back on my 20s, here are some of my biggest lessons learned:

Everyone struggles. Your 20s are hard. No matter what path life takes you on in your 20s – whether you’re married with 3 kids, divorced, single, working, not working, still in school, living on your own, living with your parents, living with three other people in a single bedroom rental – it’s a tough decade. Even though it looks like your friend or that person on Facebook has it all together – I don’t think any of us really do yet.

I heard a theory once that if we could put everyone’s life on a clothes line – with our struggles and joys honestly spelled out – and you could go pick whichever set of circumstances you wanted – we would all go back and pick our own.

So just because you don’t have it together yet, it’s not worth it to beat yourself up – or to pretend like you actually do have it together. Embrace the mess. Be truthful and vulnerable. Connect with people who are right there in the middle of the mess with you.

You lose friends; you make friends. I’ve hurt people, and people have hurt me.

I’m sorry. That we couldn’t communicate. That we didn’t have compassion for one another. That I held onto anger or resentment. That I wasn’t a bigger person.

I’m sad. That we drifted apart. That our friendship ended. That I don’t even know the person I used to care so much about.

But I’m thankful for the season you were in my life. You impacted me, taught me things, shaped who I am today.

I wish we were in a place to just put it all behind us. But, it’s also okay that we are different people now. And sometimes the damage is irreparable – and that’s life.

I’m thankful to start a new decade with only fond memories and no more hard feelings.

There’s power in asking for what you want. This was one of the most important things I learned. In my early 20s, I spent so much time trying to figure out what other people wanted that I often forgot to think about what I wanted. And even if I did know what I wanted, I wasn’t brave enough to say it.

I finally worked up the courage to say what I wanted at work, in terms of responsibilities, hours, and salary. And I said it. Put it into the world. And they said okay. And it came to be. Hmm, that was easy.

Since then, there has been such empowerment in figuring out what I want, saying it, and making it happen. Whether it is through prayer, sending positivity into the world, or making a concrete plan to make those desires come to fruition – knowing what you want and saying it is half the battle.

I can’t force it. Piggy backing on knowing what I want…. I’ve also learned that I can’t force myself to want something. My head can know something is the best choice, but if my heart doesn’t want it, it’s not happening. (For example – I know that exercising is really important and the best choice for my health now and in the future. But my heart isn’t having it. And I cannot force myself to do it.)

So many of my 30 before 30 goals ended up not being in my heart. And they so didn’t get accomplished. I didn’t even try. And that’s okay – I learned something about myself in the process.

And at the same time that I didn’t accomplish so many things, I accomplished a lot in my 20s. When something is in my heart, I suddenly have all the self-discipline and determination in the world. It will happen.

As I conclude this tumultuous decade, I’m proud of what I have accomplished and of the effort I put into learning, experiencing, working, traveling, loving. I’m at peace with what didn’t come to be. And I’m so thankful for the many blessings I’ve had along the way and the help and support from friends and family.

I’m not particularly excited about being 30 tomorrow, but I’m really happy my 20s are coming to an end. I’ll start 30 tomorrow knowing who I am, confident in my marriage, with amazing friends and family beside me, and so thankful for this little life I lead.

Cheers to 30.

Cheers to 30.

 

Dear Whitaker :: 1 Month

Dear Whit,

In some ways, I can’t believe it has already been a month. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. But, on the other hand, it seems like you’ve been a part of our family forever – as if we have always been a family of three and you just weren’t here yet. We know your cries and grunts and coos, your squirms, and the many faces you make. You are part of us, and we are part of you.

OneMonth

We love learning what you like and don’t like – even at such a young age. Nothing mesmerizes you quite like a ceiling fan or the big blue sky when we are out for a walk. You certainly love to eat. And to snuggle. You’re not such a fan of putting on clothes or dogs licking your face. And baths aren’t so great at first, but you end up liking them by the end.

You have grown so much in just a few short weeks. You’re no longer wearing newborn sizes and you’re about to outgrow your little bassinet. You used to fit perfectly in the crook of my arm, and now you’re a sprawling baby that takes up my whole lap. It’s amazing to watch you change into the person you were born to be right before my eyes.

Some women are mothers, even long before they actually have kids. Not me. Over the last month, you have made me a mom. You have brought out a kind of love and a new joy and motherly instincts that I didn’t know existed in me. I will forever be thankful for that.

We love you, little one.

Mama

Nesting

When I used to dream about being pregnant, I planned that I would photograph and document and blog the whole journey. I would take week by week bump photos and have cute little signs that tell all about my growing baby.

Well, that plan went out the window about as soon as I found out I was pregnant. And here I am, entering the third trimester, with less than a handful of pictures and no cute signs!

Andrus Williams Photography

The last few months have gone by so fast and so slowly at the same time. After our difficult fertility issues, I’ve barely let myself get excited – telling myself just to get past the next milestone.

And I’ve finally realized that all that’s doing is robbing me of this joyous time in my life. So, like my plan to photograph everything, my plan to not get excited is out the window.

This last month, Russell and I have enjoyed picking out baby’s name (and starting my monogramming obsession), starting his little wardrobe (baby clothes are the CUTEST!), and planning his nursery.

Nursery

A snowy, windy day forced us to stay home and inside today, so it was the perfect opportunity to begin work on the nursery!

In my months of not letting myself get excited, I had started using my spare bedroom as my very disorganized storage room… “I’ll just stick this in here until I start on the nursery…” Well, that meant my “Before” pictures ended up looking like this:

Nursery BeforeNursery Before

(Yikes! I’m almost embarrassed to share those!)

We spent the day clearing the room out so we could start from scratch. My furniture hasn’t been delivered yet – so I’m decorating this room in reverse. Decorations first and then furniture. Let’s hope it works out the way it looks in my head…

It’s amazing the peace it brought to start this project. Even though his due date isn’t for a few more months, it was already stressing me out that his nursery was quite literally a storage space… Even though we don’t have any of the important things in place – like, say, a crib or a changing table – it’s still such a relief to have a little organization and the start of a plan. The power of nesting really is so real!

Here are a few peeks at Whit’s nursery so far!

NurseryNurseryNursery

 

It’s a…

Well, I’ve made no secret out of the fact that I want a little girl. I want bows and sequins in my future, and not just for me.

From the second I found out I was pregnant, though, I was positive that it was a boy. From the moment that the second line appeared on that test, I immediately – almost spontaneously – started praying for this little baby. That HE would grow into a strong and courageous man for God.

Well, the doctor confirmed what I knew all along – it’s a boy. And my dreams of bows and sequins are turning into bow ties and camo and footballs.

And so it begins… like father like son!

Baby WIlliamsBaby Williams
(Thanks to The Pear Tree for the super cute clothes – they made finding out it’s a boy that much better!)

The Happiest Anniversary

For 1,829 wonderful days, I’ve been Russell’s wife.

In that time, we’ve celebrated 5 anniversaries, birthdays, new businesses. We acquired a zoo. We traveled and adventured – a lot. Moved (a few times…) – and made a home, new lives, and dear new friends. We’ve grown in love and in our relationship. For that 1,829 days, we have been unapologetically and unequivocally happy together.

But among all of those wonderful memories from the last five years of marriage, this anniversary stands out as the best. Although we didn’t go any place exciting, no presents were exchanged, and no champagne toast – we got to see our baby move and its little heart flutter. It was pretty dang amazing.

Andrus Williams Creative

Yes, at long last, I get to write these words: I’m pregnant.

So, to my love – thank you for five amazing years of marriage and for the happiest anniversary. I am so blessed to have you by my side in this new adventure and am so excited for what’s to come.

Backyard Makeover :: Day 1

After – um, 3 years – of talking about expanding our backyard, the project is finally underway! A bit ago, we bought the lot next to us so that we can have more room for our zoo and better outdoor living. Russell and I both grew up in the country, and we’re craving a little more space and a few more trees.

If you know me at all, you know I think big. So, this backyard makeover is really a 3 phase project. And, at the rate we tend to move, the three phases will probably take place over the next 10 years. But, at least we’re finally making progress!

In this first phase, we’re fencing in the new lot next to us, landscaping, and planting trees. And I can’t stay away from home renovations… so we are turning our existing patio into a sun room. I’m so excited to have better access to outdoor living space! I’m dreaming of trees, and sunset views, and evening breezes. (And, yes, I know, flies and dirt and 40 mph winds.)

I can’t wait to see the area transform…  I hope it turns out at least half as awesome as it looks in my head.

Here are a few pictures from Day 1. Stay tuned for more as the project progresses!Andrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus Williams

 

Purpose

Thank you all for the loving, kind, caring reception to my post a few days ago about Real Life. Everyone’s words and prayers are so appreciated.

Since finding out that we can’t have kids on our own, Russell and I have had to ask ourselves how badly we want kids, what lengths we’re willing to go to get them, and what our life would look like if we don’t have kids. We had talked about these things before we got married and through the years – but the conversations are so much heavier when there’s the weight of reality hanging on them.

I think it’s no coincidence that at the exact same time we’ve been grappling with these questions, we’ve gotten to be involved in the launch of Purpose Coffee and watch it grow.

(If you don’t know what Purpose Coffee is, visit our website for all the info. But, in a nutshell, we import coffee from Thailand, Colombia, and hopefully soon countries in Central America and Africa. We roast the coffee here in Dalhart, you buy it, and then we donate all of the proceeds to fund child wellness projects in the same countries where the coffee beans came from. We’re investing in schools, orphanages, health initiatives, water well projects, and so much more!)

Before we started IVF and whatever other fertility treatments planned for us, I wanted to take time to focus on Purpose Coffee and make a trip solely dedicated to that cause. So, in February, we went to Colombia.

Purpose Coffee Co.It was such an amazing trip – soaking up all of the possibility and good that this new company has. Just what I needed to rejuvenate my soul.

We started the trip in Medellin, where we visited some schools and an orphanage that the proceeds from Purpose Coffee support. We got to see what the needs were – and, even more importantly, we got to meet the people who would benefit. The joyful, smiling faces. The beautiful personalities. The sweet kids whose lives shine with potential.

Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.We ended our trip by venturing into the countryside to visit coffee farms, meet with farmers, and bring back samples of their coffee. It was so interesting and beautiful and restorative and peaceful. And the coffee we brought home ended up being pretty delicious too.

I can’t even begin to describe what comfort and peace our involvement in Purpose Coffee has brought us – to know that even if it turns out that it’s not in our cards to have kids of our own, we can still carry out God’s purpose. That our lives can still have meaning. That we can still make a difference in kids’ lives and help shape their futures.

I know it’s cliche to think that God closes one door and opens a window. But, I’m pretty thankful He does.

Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.Purpose Coffee Co.

 

A Tourist in Thailand

My last several blog posts have focused on the mission trip that Russell and I went on over Christmas. I hope it’s clear that my heart and soul were touched and changed forever by the things we saw and the people we met while on the trip.

We were also lucky to spend a few extra days in Thailand, experiencing a little more of the country and culture as tourists.

Bangkok

We flew into Bangkok a day early, before the rest of our group arrived. To say we were the typical tourists is an understatement. We traveled by tuk-tuk, we ate Pad Thai, Russell had some clothes tailored for him in six hours, we saw every Buddha in the city, and we sat in a lot of traffic. If we ever go back, I’ll definitely skip Bangkok. One day was more than enough.

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Chiang Mai

Halfway through our mission trip, we traveled from Yangon, Myanmar to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we had a tourist day since it was New Years Eve. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area were really neat – a must see for anyone traveling to Thailand.

We rode elephants, held baby tigers, and let off lanterns. a.k.a., It was the best day of my life. I don’t think I will ever forget what it feels like to feed an elephant, to pet a tiger, and to release a lantern into the heavens, watching it float away and join the sea of thousands of other lanterns.

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Krabi

After the mission trip finished, Russell and I headed to Krabi island for a little relaxation (and a little too much sun). We took a day-long snorkeling trip to Koh Rok, which had, hands down, the most amazingly beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of powdery white sand and crystal clear water until visiting Thailand.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand had been on my list of dream vacations for years, and I’m so glad to have spent time really getting to see so much of the country, while meeting its people and learning about its fascinating culture (oh, and eating its delicious food!).

Happy Birthday to My Love

Since I met Russell over seven years ago, he has changed me and grown with me so much. He’s changed me from a vegetarian to a meat lover, a city girl to a farm wife, a (slightly oblivious) college girl to a confident business woman… And the list could go on for days.

So many of the characteristics I naturally lack, he excels. Discipline, logic, responsibility, adventure, steadfastness. How amazing that he lets me stand on his shoulders and draw from his strengths.

I like to think I’ve rubbed off a little on him too. He’s more compassionate and understanding, more charitable, and more likely to eat dessert.

From day one of our relationship, I’ve loved that we are so different. We push each other; challenge each other.

Going on a mission trip isn’t something I ever thought Russell would want to do. So, when he casually mentioned he might be interested in going one day, I signed us up immediately. Leading up to the trip, I worried that I might have pushed a little too hard. What if he hated it. What if he was miserable. What if it was hard to play with the kids since we don’t have any kids. What if it was too hard to be around other people constantly for two weeks when we are used to being just us two. What if, what if, what if…

Honestly, I don’t know why I worry at all about that man; he’s a star. He worked hard, painting and helping build a foundation at one of the orphanages.

MyanmarThailandHe played SO well with the kids, showing them his crazy yoga abilities and amazing athleticism. And then he introduced them to Lord of the Rings and iPad minis and Texas Tech. (For the record, Go Frogs!)

MyanmarThailandMyanmarHe earnestly and thoughtfully talked with the orphanage leaders, learning about their farming and sustainability efforts, and sharing ideas for improvement and growth.

MyanmarThailandHe was patient. And loving. And kind. And thoughtful. And protective. And strong. And I fell even more in love with him.

Happy birthday to the best partner in life I could ever ask for. xoxo

Myanmar

Mission Trip

Russell and I got home from our mission trip late last night after 16 (or maybe 17? I lost count.) days traveling abroad. We’ve each had about 72 seconds of sleep. Our bags are definitely still packed. The mail is piled high. Our to-do lists are getting full already. My Christmas decorations are still up. The house and yard look like our dogs went on a rampage while we were gone.

But, instead of focusing on any of that, I’m sipping coffee and sorting through my photos. 703 of them to be exact. And trying to put into words what’s in my heart and mind after this life changing trip.

MyanmarWe were in Thailand and Myanmar to work at and support orphanages and do outreach in the surrounding communities. It was awesome, and challenging, and moving, and inspiring, and difficult, and not at all what either of us expected.

MyanmarOur hearts were touched by all of the people we met who have such a burning passion for Jesus, for His children, and for the betterment of their country and the lives of their peers. And we were blown away by the hope and potential – both for the individuals and the region at large.

MyanmarI’m not sure how long it will take to fully digest the last few weeks. And to make my way through 703 photos. But, I’ll definitely be sharing more of my thoughts, reactions, prayers, and photos soon.

MyanmarLast and most importantly, I want to extend a deep and sincere Thank You to everyone who thought about us, checked in on us, sent words of encouragement, and prayed for us while we were gone – your love was definitely felt!

Myanmar

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