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Good Words

Friends, my playlist is about to get a major Mama makeover. Elliott and I have never been the kind of parents to keep our preferred music away from our son. Sure, some of the content got watered down once little man’s ears started to pick up on words, but we never fully converted our music of choice over to a Kidz Bop-approved variety. Over the last year or so, Brooks – our son who is now five years old – has taken a special interest in singing along with me to the songs that are on my playlist. We sing in the car, he sings along with the music while I work out or while we run down back country roads. It’s kind of become our thing. When we get to the songs that are filled with uplifting messages – messages that reinforce our faith or encourage self-confidence – I always say, “Listen, buddy! These are good words.” After a few months of me reminding him to pay close attention to the lyrics in certain songs, Brooks has now started to ask me, “Mommy, are these good words?” wh

Get Out of the Way

I never wanted to be a fire wife.

All of those selfless women who have the spiritual gifts of sacrifice, patience and gentleness, who manage their lives and their households seamlessly while their soldier/police officer/firefighter husbands are on shift or on duty...I applaud you. I have all the respect in the world for you. But I never wanted to be one of you. I didn't think I had the strength for it, and it was never a direction that I intended for my life.

The first time Elliott ever told me he wanted to be a firefighter, we were sophomores in college. It was the same year that Ladder 49 was in movie theatres, and he took me on a date to see it one night. After the movie, as I was still collecting myself (spoiler alert: the ending ain't happy), he decides to lay it on me that deep down, he has felt called to be a firefighter since the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He explained that his grandfather had been a high-ranking military officer, and he felt like he had some kind of service calling in his blood. But the attacks on 9/11 made him want to channel his calling toward the fire service.

What a noble, incredible calling. I should have felt honored to be dating someone who thought on such a selfless, service-oriented level.

My response? "I think that's really great, but I've never wanted to be married to a firefighter. So if that's what you choose, I don't know if this is going to work."

Fast forward a few years. Elliott and I have graduated from college, settled into our working lives and bought our first house in Georgia. I can still remember sitting in the small Italian restaurant one evening when he told me, years after confessing it to me the first time, that he still felt this call on his heart to be a firefighter. He had been volunteering with our county's fire department for a while at that point, and I had been hopeful that serving in that capacity would quench his thirst for this desire. But that night, sitting in that little Italian restaurant, I knew it wasn't enough. I realized that I was watching someone struggle with the weight of not living the life that his soul knew he needed.

I also realized that night that I was the reason for his struggle. I had known for years that he had this desire deep down, and I truly felt like I had the right to get in the way of it. Because it wasn't my plan. It wasn't what I had pictured for my life.

For MY life.

What I wanted was for Elliott to stay right where he was in retail management, for us to work at our jobs long enough to save up the money we needed to open our own business. We would own a specialty running store together, help people find the right shoes and apparel, talk to them about injury prevention and maybe even do a little coaching.

That was the plan. That's what we had discussed. I thought it was the ultimate dream, and I hung my hat on it and tried to force it into existence. To a fault.

Here was my sweet husband, sitting in front of me telling me that he wanted to live a life of service. Of impact. He felt a calling to help others when they are in their most desperate moments of life. When they don't have anyone else to call. He wanted to be one of the helpers.

I realized something in that Italian restaurant. Who am I to stand in the way of anyone else's calling for their life? Even if - especially if - it's my own husband? Even if I'm the one who knows him best, who does life with him every day? Who am I to get in the way of his dreams and ambitions?

So I made the conscious decision that night to get out of the way. To say yes, when all of my fear and anxiety and selfishness was telling me to say no. I said yes.

I've realized something over the years, as I've watched Elliott pursue his calling and find so much joy and satisfaction in it. Sometimes we go through seasons where we are the stars of our own lives. The focus is on us - we get through school, we pursue our careers, we struggle through parenthood, we grow ourselves through personal development.

And other times - and please don't miss this, friends. Other times, we are meant to be the supporting role in someone else's story. And if we can get over ourselves enough to grab hold of this concept, what a sweet, humbling, beautiful role this is that we get to play.

Maybe part of the calling in my own life is to love this man well. Maybe one of the reasons I was put on this earth was to support him, give him the space to pursue his path and stand with him on the good days and the hard days of this journey.

I can make the choice to let that support role be a burden, because it requires me to put someone else above myself. Or I can choose to embrace the honor that it is, to humble myself and see the sweet goodness in getting to play a part in the incredible story of someone else's life.

What an honor it is to do life with Elliott Austin. He is a good man, strong and steady, with a tender heart for helping others. He has stood by me and supported me, even on days when I was at my worst and didn't deserve it. What an honor and a blessing to be able to give that gift back to him. To get out of his way and help him discover the man he's meant to be. I can't help hold him up if he's always the one holding me.

I hope that as we all seek to find the best versions of ourselves, as we push ourselves to better places and work hard to create lives of joy, purpose and meaning, that we don't miss this truth. It can't be about us all the time, friends. It can't be. If it is, then I promise aren't living the full life that you are meant for. Life is certainly about growing ourselves and finding who God created us to be. But life is equally as much about humbling ourselves, serving others, helping others grow, and dare I say...getting out of the way.

Happy Wednesday, friends.


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