After last year’s letter, three-ish months of perfect pregnancy bliss followed! Well… kind of. Hindsight, a beautiful birth, and a healthy baby boy make me forget the harder parts. But isn’t that the way it goes? The hardest part of pregnancy were the fears I carried around unnecessarily. I get that doctors have to be informative, but it seemed as if every appointment came with the news of some potential problem within me or the baby. Anyway, besides that, I had an easy time, and I loved that season.
Arlo Mark Barela, my healthy sweet boy, was born on September 27, 2018 at 8:47AM. He was 7lbs 10 oz and 19.5 inches long. He was and continues to be the most dreamy, gorgeous boy I have ever laid my eyes on! I could easily go on and on about this part of the year, because it was definitely a highlight, but! Instead of rehashing it here, if you’re interested you can find my whole birth story by clicking here. When Chad and I drove away from the hospital the next day with Arlo in the back seat, I don’t think we had that “Wait, you’re sending me home with this baby?!” feeling that some people describe. It felt pretty natural actually, but I will say that it took us twice as long to get home and we had never been more aware of the terrible drivers on the road!
The next evening, September 28, my grandpa (Boppa) passed away. He had been in poor health for a long time, and was ready to go Home to be with Jesus. The timing of his loss was bittersweet. My mom put it this way in her Easter letter this year. “I wonder if he knew Arlo was on the way; I wonder if Dad stalled to experience a day on Earth with his first great grandchild. Though from California to New Mexico apart, I wonder if – in spirit - they connected. Loved one another briefly. – Interesting mental meanderings, but as I mentioned earlier: my God keeps getting bigger and bigger and more mysterious. I wouldn’t put it past His infinite abilities and unfathomable time equations to pull off crazy, as yet unknowns…”
Next came two weeks of the highest highs (baby breath, baby snuggles, baby toes) and a few lows too (Baby Blues). When Arlo was just three weeks old, Chad and I took him to California on a train in a sleeper car to attend Boppa’s memorial service. This trip seemed like the steepest mountain in my mind. I still kind of can’t believe we pulled it off— but I’m incredibly thankful we did. It was a special few days with our Santa Barbara family celebrating such a special man to us all.
We celebrated Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara too, as is our tradition, and then Christmas at home.
Also before the end of the year, our business Towns, was undergoing several different transitions. If you remember from last year’s letter, Towns had just celebrated it’s first birthday, and we were on the hunt for a couple more stylists to step in before I left on maternity leave. We did find two girls just in the nick of time and they were a huge help to us! That made 3 employees total, although one ended up moving out of state a few months later. In November, the Towns team signed a lease at a new location off Route 66 in Downtown Albuquerque. It was the perfect place, or at least would be given enough time and effort (oh and money)! We had no idea just how much. From November to April, (and even before that as we negotiated another potential property) we were dealing with two locations, tons of team meetings, spreadsheets, budgets, financing negotiations, fears, dreams, excitement, nerves, and juggling new parent life on top of all of that— so add sleep deprivation to the mix too! It was a LOT. And my sweet Arlo just went along for the ride. Jesus knew I needed an easy-going babe to introduce me to motherhood, especially as the co-owner of a baby business too.
Now it’s summer again, which means Towns just celebrated it’s second birthday! And we’re finally out of our first location at Sawmill and into our new Downtown location exclusively! We've changed the business model just a bit, and are now considering ourselves the Hair Shop at Towns instead of Towns Hair Shop. Now the name Towns includes a retail end with Southwest Goods that we’re still in the process of curating. We considered that Towns could be the brand, the umbrella under which lots of different ideas and projects could come to life. Oh! And Chad has his own workshop and display within the Towns building too! So he’s finally out of our garage and is fully enjoying working in refrigerated air and around other people. It’s wild to think about how quickly our vision has adjusted, but we’re thankful and excited for the direction we’re going. We’re hosting a Grand Re-Opening/Birthday Party Celebration for Saturday, July 13. (So if you’re in the neighborhood— come by!)
We still attend North Church. We actually just acquired a new lead teaching pastor, and he’ll be starting next week! Gosh. North has been through it. (And so have the people that have stuck around). I also won’t get into all of that just now either, but know that we love our church and are excited and hopeful for the future of it. Chad still leads one of our worship teams there, along with my mom’s husband, Greg. I actually get emotional probably every week that they play together. It’s a pretty neat picture of redemption and God’s grace towards our family.
So what now! In this season, when people ask “What’s new?” I usually say, “Everything and nothing.” Our day to day looks pretty much the same. But of course behind the scenes we are scrambling to adjust to the new-ness of business growth and a new location, parenthood and a constantly changing sweet little boy, and marriage and the hits it takes through the newness of the other things. My goal right now is simply to change the “scrambling to adjust…” bit I mentioned before to “peacefully adjusting to…” Chad adapts easily, and I’m jealous of that ability. He would attribute it to the work of having a good attitude in the face of change, and while I’m sure he’s at least partly right, I struggle to keep up. I strive off of efficiency, consistency, security, blah blah blah. All the things that just aren’t givens right now as we “trial-and-error” figuring out this season.
I’ve been sitting here awhile now trying to figure out how to wrap up this letter. There’s so much left out. There’s so many lessons, so many struggles, so much joy and hardship. One measly letter doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s such an incomplete picture. This year, there have been a lot of growing pains. A lot of aching (which can be of both happiness and sorrow). For the birth of my first child. For how fast he is growing (which means the rest of us are growing too). For joy-filled moments and the days that pass. For the memories made and the memories loved ones have missed. I ache for the heartbreak and loss the people around me have experienced. For the prayers still unanswered for others. For the balance of presence and wholeheartedness, and again with the feeling of being spread too thin. There’s so much left out. But, as I sat here pondering, my mom sent my brother and I a text with a picture of the beautiful sunset Albuquerque is wrapped up in tonight. There’s bright orange to the West and a double rainbow in the foothills to the East. She included this verse.
“ I lift up my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from?” Psalm 121:1
May that be my reminder and hope as I enter Year Five. May my eyes always look back to Jesus. My help comes from Him. He holds me through every ache, of happiness or sorrow.