Happy New Year!  Since December 31st has already passed, I suppose I should be done reflecting on 2019.  Out with the old and in with the new, as they say, right?  However, the past year had a “better late than never” feel to it and whereas a lot of times I just wanted the year to be over, I’m pretty glad it shaped up the way it did.  This New Year’s post is more about reflections than resolutions, because even the moments we’d rather forget had to happen to bring us to where we are today.

2019 had its challenges for our family, that can definitely be said.  The past two months were especially trying with some things going on at work, and I don’t know if it was despite or because of the holiday season, but we made it through.  Yes, the Christmas season generally is a blur for us, and I always feel like we don’t get to do all the holiday traditions I want, but it was different this year.  Even though they were important things to deal with, this past year, I realized I let some of the challenges happening with family, work, and our adoption journey preoccupy my time and joy.  If I didn’t realize it throughout the year, it became very apparent to me around Christmas.  To be honest, a week ago, I hadn’t given much thought to a new year beginning, or any resolutions or goals for that matter because of the way some things throughout the year had gone. 

  • Early in the year, my 97-year-old grandmother (God bless her) reached a point in her health where she could no longer live by herself on the farm.  She built a life that wasn’t always easy, but it was one she loved and the only one she knew, and leaving that, was really hard for her.  It was hard on everyone to walk with her through that.  But coming out on the other side, in a way, has been positive because it’s required my family to have conversations with her and with each other we haven’t had before.  We’ve got her in a place where she feels cared for and has goals, and that’s important for her future health. 
Grandma Ann and Cora checking on the garden at Grandma’s new place
  • Also in the past year, we dealt with a couple of adoption situations that didn’t pan out; one more than the others we really attached ourselves to emotionally, even though we never made an official match.  I won’t get into the details but for over a month we placed all our hope and prayers into the situation, while at the same time, reminding ourselves that the blessing in it was that the mother had ultimately chosen life for her baby and that we wanted her to be at peace with her decision, whomever she chose to place her baby with.  Fortunately, that baby is now with their incredible forever family. 
  • At the end of the year, if you’d talked to me in the past couple weeks, you’d know that I reached a huge milestone in my professional life and will soon be achieving a goal with work that I’ve had for the past three years!  But that milestone came along with a lot of delays and very bumpy and unnerving events.  I have a few very special people in my life that were incredibly supportive and came alongside me through it; I couldn’t have done it without them. 

In the past year, our family dealt with a lot of challenging things, but also experienced a lot of growth.  Justin and I will both tell you that we think God uses times like these to build and strengthen character.  Not only that, but it’s allowed me to focus on where my help and joy comes from.  Looking back, I’m ever so grateful that I can say most of our major challenges this year have had positive outcomes, and provided a constant reminder of why it’s important to celebrate God’s goodness in our lives.   

  • I am thankful for our family.  In considering that this is not only a new year but a new decade, it’s a little overwhelming to reflect on just how far we’ve come.  Justin and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary this year!  Our #tenyearchallenge to ring in the new decade would be Cora comparing Justin’s bearded mug that is all she’s known, to pictures of the much younger, goatee’d version I married 🙂  And of course our favorite day over the past decade was the day four and a half years ago, meeting our girl in the hospital, 24 hours after she was born.
  • I am thankful for each new day.  The setbacks we’ve faced in pursuit of our goals, whatever aspect of life they’re in, are usually momentary.  I’ve learned that when I face things with the knowledge that there is endless opportunity to get up and start over, the bad stuff doesn’t weigh me down and I again feel as though anything is possible.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I try to set realistic expectations of what I can do in one day!  I was telling our friends the other night at our New Year’s Eve party that I’d seen a post on social media alluding to January 1st being the first page of a 365-page book, so we should write a good one.  I told them I thought that waaaaay too much pressure for me and that New Year’s day was made for staying in your jammies and taking down Christmas decorations – not exactly a page-turner right there!
  • I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy.  In the past year, I spent more time learning about the character of God by reading the Bible and participating in a small group at church.   One of my favorite songs about the character of God gets regularly sung at church (and of a particular morning if we sing it in church or hear it on the radio, you can bet the three of us are going to have it stuck in our heads and randomly belt out lines of it throughout the day.  Super annoying, I know, but it’s kind of a family habit).  My favorite line talks about exactly how I feel with the trust and hope that I have – “Even when I don’t see it, you’re working, even when I don’t feel it, you’re working; you never stop, you never stop working.”

So, hello 2020 – I welcome you with open arms.  I look forward to spending time with my family, experiencing traditions and hopefully doing some new things together.  I’ve also got a couple of personal goals to start on right away – finishing up appraisal certification for work, and then starting to train for my third half marathon.  Beyond those things, we are excited to see what is in store for our year and for our adoption journey.  A new year can elicit a lot of emotions, but there’s also so much comfort in the knowledge that if we face trials, we can trust that things will work out for our good. 

Some of our favorite memories of this holiday season:

Elise and Cora at our annual football game with Gramma Joan
Full table & fuller hearts at Thanksgiving
All the cousins at Christmas
Justin and Cora rolling out dough for sugar cookies!