Let me be the first to wish you a happy New Year a little early. What are your plans to celebrate? Hanging out well into the night with friends? Sitting at home watching the ball drop? Pulling the blinds and turning in early like usual? I used to hang out late with friends and usually go to Philadelphia for dinner and fireworks. Now, New Year’s celebration involves an early evening dance party in the kitchen with my husband and girls and normal bedtimes. Though different vibes, both experiences have been great. Although plans change every year, the one thing that stays the same is my time of reflection. As a deeply feeling, introspective person, that time of reflecting over the past year is like a holiday in itself for me. So, here is some of my year in review and what I‘ve learned. You’re welcome.
For starters, the word I would use to describe my experience of 2016 is BIG. This was a big year. It was riddled with experiences that packed a punch. Some were absolutely thrilling while others were devastating. Ah life! You crazy rollercoaster, you. Here are some of the joys and challenges of 2016:
- In May we took our first family road trip for Joel’s grandfather’s funeral. We received the news of his funeral and left on the same day. While my husband was at work, I packed for all four of us, rented a car, booked a hotel and then we picked him up and drove all night to Kentucky. Still can’t believe we did that, but we are so glad we did.
- Joel started a new job as a second grade bilingual teacher. Huge answer to prayer!
- As a teacher, Joel was off this summer for the first time since we have been married. It was a great time of rest and restoration for our family. We had extended time to slow down, breathe and enjoy.
- We took our first ever family vacation to the Poconos with my in-laws. The girls had a blast playing with cousins and looking at deer that would cross in front of the cabin every day. So fun!
- I received training to start my doula business. It was so freeing for me to step out after all this time and take a risk to try something new.
- We have walked through two major health crises for my husband, including a recent 10-day hospital stay in October.
- We had to improvise for Alathea’s first birthday celebration because not only were both girls sick but Savanna had pneumonia. It was sad to see my two year old so sick and to feel bad that Alathea didn’t really get a party.
- We were not strangers to financial hardship.
- After four years at my church, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit and how to use my gifts. Sometimes I feel like a kid on their first day of kindergarten. Haha.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list but just some of the highlights. You may be thinking, “That’s nice, but so what?”
This process of writing allows me to take my honesty before the Lord to a new level. It’s one thing to have experienced something wonderful or something hard, but it is another thing to see it on paper. As I relive the “Thank you God!” moments and the “What the heck?!” moments, my heart feels freer than if I allow years and experiences to roll by without slowing down to capture them and assess my heart. I ask myself questions like, “Why was I so happy about that?” or “What was I relying on in that situation that made it extra hard?” As I do that and process the year with fresh eyes, something wonderful always happens; I get new perspective. In retrospect I am able to see God’s work in my life in ways that I was unable to in the moment. God becomes great, glorious, good and gracious again, putting the rest of my world in its proper place. So I move forward looking backward. I don’t want to forget God’s faithfulness, lessons learned or memories made. If God is for me and God is with me, then it will all make a great story someday, and I am looking forward to looking back on it again.