Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Reflections...and hopes for 2017

So I am sitting here on the couch while watching the Top 2000 music countdown and thinking about all that has happened this past year.  I honestly don't even know where to begin.  Maybe my Belgian brown beer will help give me some inspiration.  It's supposed to increase milk supply anyway...haha.

This past year has been met with lots of joy as well as sadness, lots of moving forward while feeling like I have taken 3 steps back, lots of challenges, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally.  I have honestly learned so much about myself, God, and others.  As difficult as this year was at times, I am thankful for every trial I've walked through.  It's helped me to grow and mature as a person, a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend.

We started out 2016 in our new house that we had just moved into one month before.  That whole situation was one big stressful drama, but we made it.  After all kinds of setbacks as well as having to move twice within 2 weeks time, we survived.  In fact, we overcame.  It was refreshing to start out a new year in a new place where lots of new beginnings would be birthed.  The kids have surely adjusted well.  Guido did too.  It was me who continued to have my reservations about this place.  I wasn't easily sold and just had a hard time seeing the bigger picture, the potential,  all that could become in this house.  But it happened.  This house became a home for us.  This place grew on me, and now I actually really enjoy living here.  We've done a ton of work to personalize our home, and we're nowhere near finished.  But hey, we've come a long way, and I am proud of how much we were able to accomplish in such a short period of time.  If only the money grew on trees since we have a bunch of those in our garden.  Ah well.  I am especially proud of Guido and all that he has done to develop our home into what we dream of.  I wasn't an easy person to deal with when it came to the renovations, but he survived.  WE survived, and our house is looking better and better all of the time.
After somewhat of a long journey of doubt, fear, and uncertainty, it happened.  The thing we weren't sure we could handle.  The thing we weren't sure we wanted, needed, or thought would ever even happen.  But it did.  After I finally surrendered my heart, my feelings, my desires, my everything to the Lord, it happened.  Dylan Asher happened.  Oh my, what an adventure.  This was a tough one.  The pregnancy was met with all kinds of struggles, including some medical stuff as well as dealing with depression and anxiety that I had never experienced during my other two pregnancies.  It was so so hard.  I second guessed myself in just about every area of my life during this time.  I was faced with some harsh realities regarding my own upbringing which also became a mirror for me regarding my role as a mother to my own children.  Do I have what it takes?  Can I be everything that they want, need, and deserve?  I asked myself this question so often, probably a million times a day.  Let's face it.  I was scared.  I was scared to start all over again.  I mean, I turned 35 years old this year.  Verah had turned 4 and started elementary school and here I was going back to the beginning.  I almost felt selfish for questioning it all, but now I know that it's normal and even healthy to do so.  I felt like I was going crazy at times so I took the initiative to go see a psychiatric nurse at the hospital in order to make sure I was getting the support I needed during this time.  Just that one conversation changed it all for me.  The nurse was a man probably in his 60's or so.  He was honest, kind, and seasoned.  He listened to me...really listened.  He encouraged me that I wasn't crazy nor was I suffering from clinical depression or anything like that.  The psychiatrist confirmed all of that, and they both agreed that I was dealing more with life phase questions.  It clicked.  It all made sense.  I finally could cross that bridge and have some much-needed peace in my heart and mind.

Finally, we were reaching the end of the pregnancy.  I couldn't wait to have that physical relief and just meet our son.  We were pretty shocked, by the way, to be having another boy.  We both thought we were having another girl.  I was so shocked that I had asked the ultrasound technician to show us again during the 20-week ultrasound that it indeed is a boy.  I had been listening to this awesome soaking CD for the week or so leading up to Dylan's birth.  It's called, "Childbirth in the Glory." It's awesome, powerful, and encouraging.  There was a part that stood out to me both before Dylan's birth as well as when I was in labor with him.  Hebrews 11:4 says something about laboring in order to enter into rest.  Well, Dylan's birthday is 11/4 (November 4th) so this scripture became very special and profound to me.  God began speaking to me about how we have laboring for years, and that this was a time of transition to enter into a new season...a season of REST!  Hallelujah!  Music to my ears!  Haha!  This also came shortly after Guido and I celebrated 8 years of marriage at the end of October.  The number "8" means "new beginnings" so this made so much sense to both of us.  One season has come to a close, and we're entering a new season full of amazing things for us all individually, as a couple, and also as a family.

We've gone through so much with our children this past year.  Lots of transition for us all, and we've seen first-hand how much the move as well as other factors have played in Jaydon and Verah's lives.  Jaydon went through several trials at his old school, and it was heartbreaking.  Verah had a good start at the old school, and she was sad to leave.  Things seemed so uncertain, especially with Jaydon.  It all seemed unclear, and I was scared to let go and walk yet again into unfamiliar territory.  But I trusted my husband's leading, and we decided to change schools.  God totally orchestrated it all, and just like that, the kids both had a place in the new school after the summer vacation.  After such a rough start at elementary school for Jaydon, he's finally enjoying school and thriving!  He has two wonderful teachers who really support him as well as new friends in an environment where he finally feels safe to be himself.  Verah also has great teachers and a bunch of new besties.  She is doing great, and really enjoys going to school.  We're so blessed and so proud of these two.  We love how the school is not even a 10-minute walk from our doorstep, and our kids can grow up and go to school with the other kids in the neighborhood.  They love our home, and they finally have the space to run and be to explore and just be who they!

I cannot even begin to share my thoughts and perhaps even opinions regarding all of the stuff that's happened in the world this past year.  But my gosh!  What a year!  My heart is broken over so many things that are out of my control, and I am honestly just feeling tired and helpless a lot of times.  I wish I could reach out and save every child who needs a home, a mommy, a hug, and just to be loved.  All of this while doubting my capabilities of even being a good parent to my own children.  The delivery of Dylan was rough, especially at the end.  The first weeks were such a challenge, and this really made me question myself and if I could truly handle being a mom of three kids.  But they, they're 3 amazing kids.  Who wouldn't want to be their mommy?  And here I have the honor of being that one special person who carried them, birthed, them, and now gets to raise them along with their daddy.  It's a humbling experience.  And the answer to prayers and have come and continue to happen.  After the rough starts, our kids are thriving.  They're settled, growing, thriving, living life with such joy.  And this brings Guido and I much joy too.

So with all of that randomness, I guess I am thinking about what my hopes and dreams are for 2017.  I could totally make this lame New Year's resolution list, but I know myself.  It'd be broken within the first hours or days of the new year so why even bother.  What I do know is that I want to continue to be awesome and grow into even more a woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  I want to continue to learn more to love genuinely and not be so judgmental.  I want to grow in my relationship with God and not be afraid to ask the hard questions...and also not feel guilty for doing so.  I am seriously so over Christians guilt-tripping one another over one's doubts and struggles when it comes to faith.  Faith is such a personal, unique journey for each person, and we're all entitled to explore this journey without condemnation.  That's what I think anyway.  I want to fall more in love with my husband and kids than I am, enjoy this season of my life where my main focus is resting, exploring who I am, liking myself, celebrating my giftings and callings, and learning to be content with breathing even if that's all that I have accomplished on any given day.  I am done being afraid of being 35 and growing older.  I admire my husband's joy and pride in turning 40 just a couple of weeks ago.  He's excited about what the present and future hold for him and for us.  I am too.  I just wish I was a bit more bold sometimes.  I guess I should be careful what I wish for though.  It might come true.

So, here's to 2016.  Thank you for all that you've taught me about myself, God, and other.  Thank you for all of the trials and tribulations as well as the life-changing moments that have brought me some of the greatest joy in my life.  Thank you for bringing me 8 years of marriage and another son to share in our crazy life.  Thank you for allowing me to look at others close to me, though they may be far in physical distance, with another set of eyes which have helped me to put things in the right perspective, though it hurts my heart at times.  I appreciate you, 2016.  You've been a core year, one of foundations strengthning which allow of the continued bulding upon with greater things to come.

And 2017, I welcome you.  I look forward to the journey as I continue to look and the mirror and learn more and more to actually like what I see.  I look forward to turning 36, which is getting closer to 40, and I take pride in actually growing up with good music and without the internet and knowing that I still survived.  I do hope to grow in sarcasm and wit, and I sure as well hope that my wine closet expands more than my waistline.  In fact, I don't want my waistline to expand at there's that.  I hope to find my people this next year and get established in a community.  I choose to enter this new year with thankfulness and gratitude for all that's been and all that's to come.  Let's go.  Bring it on.