She was a purple Giant. My first bicycle wasn’t huge, Giant was the brand. As an Old Order Mennonite girl, my transportation options were the family horse and buggy, walking, or a used bike from the family stockpile. But at thirteen I got my very first, very own, brand new bike.
I rode barefoot on long summer evenings to neighborhood softball games in cow pastures, to the river for a swim, to friend’s houses for outdoor sleepovers. I rode in bitter winter with long socks and boots, layers of coats, scarves, and hoods, my hands and thighs numb-frozen when I finally made it to youth basketball games or back home late evenings.
As the fifth of seven children raised by a single mother, new wasn’t something I was used to. Mom would sew us new dresses, we would occasionally get a new bonnet, and sometimes new shoes, but anything new felt wildly exciting.
New. My word for 2019 has felt slow in coming, but this three-letter gem has become engraved on my heart as the first weeks of the year progress.
New: not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.
After three years of what has felt like a “fiery furnace” for our family, it feels like we are on the cusp of something new, something wildly exciting!
New: my memoir, readying for publication, from the girl whose roles and rules were rigidly defined in childhood, but whose pen and paper secretly realized a much larger story.
New: stepping out in faith into a paid position as executive director of the non-profit my husband and I started in memory of our daughter after working ten years as a volunteer, from the girl who was told women cannot lead.
New: training for my first half-marathon, from the girl who always before said, “If you see me running you should run too, because something scary is chasing me.”
New: release from a myriad of voices imposing the weight of the world on my shoulders, from the girl who carried far too weighty baggage in childhood.
New: intentionally setting aside family time, from the girl who has worn too many hats, (not literally, can too many hats be a real thing literally?)
New is palpitating, coursing through my being, daring me to step forward into the places I am being called, fondly remembering the girl I was, inviting me to become. And that new bicycle I got for my thirteenth birthday? It still carries me today, twenty-eight years later, reminding me this “new” I’m stepping into has the potential to carry me further than I ever imagined.