Thank you to those of you who have continued to check my blog even though I have failed miserably at updating it regularly. Since D.C.. it feels like I have been bombarded with one thing after another. Work is requiring more creative thinking than ever, my body decided it needed a break and the only way I would listen is if it forced me to by having a fever over 100 for 3 days in a row, and just when I thought I was ready to pick up and get going with life again, my little niece decided from the womb that at just 26 weeks of pregnancy she was ready to see the world, and bring her twin brother with her. We welcomed two teeny tiny babies into the family on Saturday morning at 10:38 and 10:39 am. Zoey Alexandra Southern came out at 1 pound 14 ounces and 12.75 inches long and Zayden Joseph Southern came out at just under 2 pounds and 13 inches long. They are both in the NICU unit at Grady, but are doing just fine. We see small progress every day. April was just here visiting for a couple of weeks – she arrived in the states last Monday – and on Wednesday went into labor. We were able to get Joseph home by late Thursday night, so he was here for most of the activity – praise God! We are expecting the babies to stay in the hospital until their due date in June, so April will stay with Michelle and I (the Oxner sisters are reunited!) until they get out, and as long as the army lets Joseph stay, he will be here too. In the midst of all of this, I also found out yesterday that my dear friend Mickie that many of you have been thinking of and praying for, passed away.
The hardest part of all of this is that I have done so so much work at finding balance in my life in the last year. I had just about found a good balance, when all of this happened. I love my family dearly, and there has never been a doubt in my mind that I would do all I could in this situation, but I’m at a place where I have to make sure I take care of myself. If I don’t take care of me, I won’t have anything to give them. So, after much prayer, I have decided to place my priorities in the following order:
1) God – this is my personal time with God. It quickly gets shoved to the side because of the many things on my calendar and with my excuse that my whole job is about God so of course God is a priority. From now on, my personal time with God will happen before I go out, not after. This is a really hard one to do – so I would appreciate any gentle reminders you feel comfortable giving to help me stay accountable to this.
2) Family. The most obvious part of this is April and Joseph and the twins. They have a lot of need right now – both physically and emotionally. I will do all that I can to help them during this great time of need. Those babies are incredible – I fall more in love with them every time I see them. I never imagined being an aunt would feel so amazing. I also never imagined it would bring April and I together the way that it has. The less obvious part of this one is Michelle. She is more than just my roommate – and at times like this it becomes so clear. When I invited her to move in, I told her and my mom that I would do everything in my power to help her succeed in college. That is even more necessary now. We have all sorts of things spinning around us – my prayer is that the three of us can ground each other when we need it the most.
3) My personal financial and legal affairs. This one really doesn’t need much explanation for those of you who know me well. I have to just keep on keeping on – one day, hopefully soon, it will be behind me.
4) Work. My job is more than just a job. My job is everything that God is calling me to. My job fulfills me and sustains me. It energizes me. I have a lot of big stuff going on at work – a lot of changes in the works and a lot of creative thinking to happen. I will be pouring my heart into this category, and it is likely that the time I am not with my family, I will be doing work.
5) My friends. This is the hardest decision I have had to make – my friends are what have gotten me through the roughest time of my life. If you can wiggle your way into category 2 or 4, then you have a much better chance of seeing me more frequently than anyone else. My calendar seems to fill up quickly and pretty completely. But the reality is, I need #5 almost as much as I need #1. You, my dear friends, have shown me God in times when I wasn’t sure where God was. I am apologizing for being distant – but please know it doesn’t mean I don’t love you dearly and greatly cherish our friendships. I need our friendships … even though I might not reach out to you to show it. If you want to be sporadic and grab coffee, call me – if I’m free and the priorities ahead of you are in a good place, I’ll probably go with you. If you’re free and wanna hang out one night, call me randomly and see if I’m free. And please know, that if there are huge things going on in your life, I will make time for you. There is always some flexibility in the priorities Many of you have been there for me when I needed you most, and I will always be here to repay that favor.
I greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers during what has been a very scary, but exciting, time. I will do my best to keep you updated on things along the way.