Monday, December 31, 2018

Reflections on 2018

What a year!  I've probably said that at some point during the last week of every year.  Sometimes in joy, sometimes in relief that it's almost over.  But, as someone who likes a good do-over, always in anticipation of what's to come.

This has been a bittersweet one for me.  The older I get, the more I use that word--bittersweet.  There just isn't a lot of black and white.  And while it's been one of the most inconsistent blogging years for me, I have had more thoughts than I could find words for.  It's also been a surprising one for me.  As I scroll through my camera roll, there are many more good things than I would have thought based on how my year started.

As you probably know, I had to say goodbye to my dad at the beginning of January. I've had a full year of "firsts" without him.  What I've realized is that the actual day--Father's Day, his birthday (which also fell on Thanksgiving),  Christmas--weren't as bad as I was dreading them to be.  It has actually been the other random days like my daughter's bday when he didn't post on facebook or my niece's graduation where I kept feeling like someone was missing and caught myself looking for him in the crowds--that have been the hard ones.
With his death, I worried it would be a miserable year full of grieving and sadness.  And those emotions have definitely been present more than in years past.  And honestly, it's been one of the hardest parenting years for me.  There are SO MANY things our kids have to deal with today that we didn't have at their age.  When your kids turn into teens, you can't post about the things you struggle with like you could when they were little, so it feels lonely.  One of the biggest surprises for me was hearing so many friends' stories about their own parenting struggles--people I would have never suspected had anything but happy, content kids based on what I see on the outside. It's been reassuring to know there are others navigating the best they can and just praying our kids don't end up in therapy for too long (I've already accepted the fact that mine will sit in an office and tell stories of things their crazy mom said and did that scarred them for life).

Despite the hard, there have been some sweet times too.  Here's a recap of a few of them:

I got to see my brother and his family more this year than I have since they moved to New York several years ago.  I love seeing the beautiful hearts my nieces have and getting to be able to share the joy of their new business venture--from a simple idea last December to a full-blown Mercantile with amazing artists and craftsman that opened up in November.

I spent my birthday picking strawberries at a local farm with a dear friend.  

Another dear friend's daughter was married and we got to take a little road trip to celebrate with her (and I got to see 2 of my favorite people in the world!).

Granny turned 100 and while there was no polka dancing at the party, she still managed to dance on her porch with our family and make sure she had the last word at her party (when you're 100, you pretty much can say whatever you want!).  

I took my first trip to upstate New York for Kalyssa's graduation and not only got to see her walk the stage and be embarrassed by how loud we were, I got to experience cold weather in June--it was freezing outside at night (we barely freeze in December here in Texas).  This was a surprise trip for me that was a gift from my stepmom so it was extra special.

Willow continues to be a source of joy for our whole family.  She's rotten to the core, but her personality has been such a lifesaver for us and lightened the mood on many days.  Brian still calls her his favorite daughter and threatens to get 5 more like her.  I tell him "No way!" but secretly, I  hope we do.  

Tioga--Hope and Caroline's school district--opened up a brand new high school.  There's something so wonderful about a small town where the superintendent prays at the dedication and sits outside the door every day greeting the students that makes me sigh with contentment.  I love that the staff knows my kids and they are not just a number.

We went to the State Fair for the 1st time in forever and I ate myself sick--literally.  I *might* be too old to taste everything and my family did not enjoy the selfies I insisted on taking with all the food (but my dad would have loved it!)

Caroline is now a freshman and we no longer have to deal with middle school--WAHOOO!!! (Plus she made a really cute costume for herself for Halloween!)

Hope got her license and first car!!  This has been a game changer for me as she is now the designated school driver and I don't have to make the trek every day.

I got to work for Lovepacs for a portion of the year and while I always knew the community leaders were amazing, I got to see them in action behind the scenes and was so stinkin proud to call them my friends. Y'all!  Almost every one of them has a full time job and yet they manage to mobilize their communities to feed thousands of students!

 Getting to meet Bob Goff at our staff Christmas party was a huge highlight--my cheeks hurt from smiling so much at the end of that day.

I set a goal to find and record 2018 things to be thankful for in 2018 and I did it!!!  I finished my last one tonight!   I tried this in 2017 and fell short--I had a pretty journal I had bought and had high hopes.  This last year, I used a little notebook that was given to me that didn't even have enough pages in it, so it has several extra pages folded up in the back with the last few hundred things listed.  I can't wait to do this again in 2019!

One of the things that has brought me the most joy this year has been one I don't even think I've posted about.  After an 18 month break from kids ministry, I started serving as a small group leader at my church this past spring for 1st -3rd graders and then moved over to our 4th-5th grade room.  I can't adequately explain how much we love Cross Timbers--we've been there for over 2 years now and I keep waiting for the newness to wear off, but it hasn't yet.  In the midst of serving, God brought something back to life inside me that I truly thought was gone AND He made a way for me to go on staff at Cross Timbers!!!  I've been in my role since Nov. 1st and absolutely love it!  I got to work with some of the very best kids min leaders at Bent Tree so I was a bit worried that I would be disappointed by any others.  It's different, but oh, so good!  Getting to build teams again just makes my heart sing!  This has been one of those "Could God REALLY be this good moments for me this year.

In the midst of grief and depression and struggles, God made something beautiful.  It has been one of the hardest years, but also one of the best. I'm looking forward to diving into 2019 and being a part of where He is at work.