On New Year’s Eve of 2011 I took a walk with a cute, quiet guy from my Sunday School class. I liked him instantly, but he was so quiet, and it left me wondering how a relationship could blossom. About an hour after I got home he called and invited me out for dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. That evening, sitting in his truck in my parent’s driveway, he asked me to be his girlfriend. We’ll be celebrating four years of marriage in February.
New Year’s Eve used to be the evening my three best friends and I gathered together, made dinner, and spent the evening hanging out. Now, I spend New Year’s Eve with my husband and children, a bottle of Welches finest sparkling grape juice, and SeaQuest DSV reruns. (Yes, the show with the talking dolphin. I love it and I’m not ashamed.) It’s also a time to reflect on the past year, revel and gape that yes, I am an adult, and another year has passed, and how did my kids ever get to big? I know for some 2016 was wretched; 2015 was my year in the valley, and 2016 has been much, much better.
It was, albeit, a year we lost a lot of beloved celebrities, and politically speaking, it was…interesting. ( Interesting. Yeah, let’s leave it at that.) However, as I reflected on 2015 and the difficulty it brought my family, I felt determined to look at each year – no, each day – as a gift. Having your world turned upside down as your spouse’s mortality is dangled in front of you tends to do that; so does looking at the world as a parent for the first time. So here, in no particular order, are just a few of the major moments and lessons 2016 provided:
- We celebrated our first child’s first birthday. My baby is one. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Time really is fleeting. He’s one now, and soon he’ll be grown. Enjoy every single day, even the hard ones.
- I found out I was pregnant with our second child! We were blessed to share the news with our friends and family at W’s first birthday. God is so good, and we are so blessed.
- W began to walk, talk, and throw hissy fits. He says, “No” a lot now, but one day he’ll say, “I love you.” He runs away just as much as he runs to me. Those hissy fits will eventually end, and it’s my job to teach him how to accept disappointment gracefully. This is a stage (sometimes an ugly one), but I am blessed with these frustrations. They shed a new light on how God views me, and how, despite my hissy fits, rejections, and time spent running away from Him, He is always there with open arms, ready to accept me back, and love me when I am at my worst.
- I got a new job; a new, scary job. I left a boss I loved working for, and I’ve had to acclimate myself to a new boss; new preferences, new tasks, and new expectations. It was, at times, scary, hard, and trying. It was also exciting, challenging, and a chance to grow. Proverbs 16:9 says the Lord directs my steps, and over the past few years I have seen that truth in motion. Each challenge placed before me is there because He desires it to be so, and I know when challenges arise I am never alone. This job has allowed me to stretch myself professionally, personally, and I am grateful for the opportunities because of it.
- My husband and I celebrated our third year of marriage. Our first year was wonderful, and I’m so, so, so thankful to admit the third year is so much better than the first! I’m looking forward to our fiftieth.
- My second child was born. No pregnancy or delivery horror story here; the only hiccup was gestational diabetes, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After a relatively easy delivery and a pleasant hospital stay we returned home and reality set in. Being a parent is hard; being the parent of two children is even harder. Having friends and family who support you, who love you, who are there when you need to cry for no reason at all make it so much easier.
- Maternity leave for three blessed months. Praise God for maternity leave! I am so thankful I was able to take 12 glorious weeks off to snuggle, struggle, and learn with my new little dude. I’m also grateful for coworkers who carried my load while I was gone, making my time off stress-free and worry-free when it came to work.
A lot more happened in 2016, but those are my highlights. I’m thankful for each and every one of them, and the lessons I learned along the way. I’m thankful God provided for my family, kept us healthy, and blessed us in big and small ways all throughout 2016. As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I realize that no matter what, God is in control of my life. He guides my steps, gives me opportunities to stretch and grow, and most importantly, will never leave me or forsake me. Come what may, I am safe in His hands, and I am thankful for each day I get.