Life lately

 photo 24 web_zpsu4n1gq8z.jpg

Life lately has been full of laughter, happiness, and contentment.  If you follow me on instagram, you know (and will likely be sick of) the amazing successes my boys are having in their respective sports.

The cross country team went to state last weekend, where they took first place.  Yes.  First place in the state of Texas, a state which is roughly the size of like eight countries in Europe or something.  And my boy was there!  He was an alternate, but he was there.  We've laughed as we've thought back to when he first started running and was so awkward, knees and elbows flailing everywhere.  Always somewhat unhappy with himself - never believing he'd really be able to do it, he would collapse in tears of frustration.  We have watched him get up faithfully before dawn, each and every day, and put miles behind him.  We've watched him at meets, improving his time, bit-by-little-bit.

I watched with tears in my eyes as he crossed the finish line at districts with a time so good that he qualified to make the alternate team.  This is more than just a high school sport for him.  This is an accomplishment of epic proportions.  This is what he's dreamed about every night for the last six years.  I just want to reach back to his little ten-year-old self and hug him fiercely with confident promises that it will all be okay.  I said those words to him then, but uttered fervent, silent prayers that I was right.  

Oh, I was so right.  It's been more than okay.  It's been life changing.

Then there's the big football player.  We are getting ready to cheer him on in the first round of playoffs this weekend.  A playoff game, which, just so happens to be played at Cowboy Stadium. A game he will actually get playing time in, as he has all season.  Even with a broken foot at the beginning of the year, he's been able to come back and play that field every single game that was left.  Never in a million years did we ever dream of such a thing.  He had never played football when he came to me, somewhat sheepishly, and told me he was going to try out for the team.  Football in Texas!  The one place on the planet where football is bigger (almost) than anything else.  We had been here in Texas all of a few weeks, and my heart just hurt with fear.  This move had taken a huge toll on all of us, and I didn't want to add disappointment on top of heartache.  

But then, in classic McKay form, he not only did well, but excelled.  He created a family with this team, and found a spot in the tricky, uncomfortable universe that is high school.  He found friends and allies.  He found himself.

Hannah has transformed herself into an amazing dancer.  She has set her sights on the high school drill team next year, and is taking dance five days per week to prepare.  She not only has found a sport to call her own, but she has surrounded herself with a group of incredibly wonderful girls - most of whom are outside of our church, which just makes me so happy.  She has seen firsthand the Christian hearts of these families and has been blessed by all their influences for good.  I have gone to bed many nights thanking God for these girls and their loving, kind hearts.

The Husband has thrived professionally, as well.  While the Marriott in [insert any given city here] is more his home than Texas, he has found it natural and easy to run an office on his own.  He has sold more work than he genuinely has time for, but manages to balance it all and still eagerly race home to spend time with us on the weekends.  He is stretched to capacity, but never lets a day pass without a check-in phone call to each of us.  He often begs me to instagram events and accomplishments that I might otherwise feel shyly embarrassed to do so.  But knowing he is far away in another city, desperate for news from home, I have posted the little updates of our life. 

Through it all, however, I have struggled.  On the outside, I have appeared to be happy and at home here.  I've had plenty of friends, but struggled to take them from friends to my people.  Loneliness was a companion I was not fond of, but was getting used to.  Sundays were particularly hard, and I fought back tears every week.  I went home from church with an empty ache in my soul, and prayed vainly for something to change.  I cried on the Husband's shoulder and did my best to hold it together.  I had resigned myself to a semi-state of unhappiness and found joy instead by focusing on my kids.  

I went back to school, and then realized a year into it that what was most important were these three little teenagers straggling in the door every late afternoon.  School, and the challenges of managing the household without a husband home every week, found me unable to juggle it all.  I had no hesitation in finding myself a college drop-out for the second time.  These hourglass sands are slipping through my fingers, and I knew I'd regret giving any of my time to things that were not my children.

I also started exercising again.  And not just sporadically, but really exercising.  I started running (and by running, I do mean panting and gasping for air while jogging for only a few minutes at a time).  I began to watch my diet and count calories.  The toll my sickness took on me emotionally, coupled with the stress of a move and my propensity to eat my feelings, led to a 40-pound weight gain over about a five year period.  I now find myself without 30 of those pounds, and a goal to drop another 15 in sight.

And lately, I've noticed these friendships seeming to hit a deeper level.  Casual lunches have turned more meaningful.  Friendships are extending beyond the surface.  Perhaps it was my confidence or perhaps just the natural progression of things, but I finally feel like I have my people.  It has taken me two-and-a-half years, but I finally feel at home here in Texas.  I feel strong and capable.  I feel needed and loved.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like myself again.