2016 was a crazy storm of things I did not expect, and I find myself in that reflective space that encircles so many of us at the turn of the new year. I had both the most amazing summer of my life this year, AND the most excruciatingly difficult fall. There were lessons and beauty in each.
Maybe just a few highlights.
There was summer. In the summer we made decisions that probably caused people to think we were crazy, and maybe we were. We left our jobs and spent every day of the entire summer with the kids – camping, swimming, hosting loads of family from out of state, and in August, joining my parents on their anniversary trip to Alaska. It was an amazing adventure. I did things I never thought I would do, like riding a river raft into a waterfall of glacial runoff, dog sledding, and panning for gold. Alaska was wild. It made me feel alive.
Summer was about family, and warmth, and adventure.
Fall came. It tends to do that when the summer ends. In the fall we learned about allowing others to really see us, even when we didn’t have it all together. Especially when we didn’t have it all together. We leaned on God hard. We prayed a lot and talked a lot and allowed our loved ones to help us, even if it felt uncomfortable. And it did. We spent time appreciating the simple pleasures – a walk in the woods, the sound of the kids laughing, an afternoon spent emptying milkweed pockets of their wispy “seed fairies.”
Fall was about faith, and humility, and patience.
Christmas came in the form of kindness from friends, family, and complete strangers. Somehow this year, the twinkle lights were brighter, the cookies were sweeter, the spirit that is Christmas – the real, true spirit – swelled in my heart more than I can remember it doing any year before.
The week winter officially started was also the week our family officially started a new way to be. Instead of Hans working and me staying home for a while, as we had planned, we swapped. Now Hans is a freshly ordained stay-at-home-dad (He’s blogging about it – check him out!), and I get to work every day with some amazing people who have an amazing mission at a job that I’m pretty sure was made for me.
Looking back can be fun, instructive even, but I find myself far more focused this year on the looking forward. The poet/novelist Rainer Maria Rilke is quoted as once having written “And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” And I love that! I’m so excited to see all the things that haven’t “been” yet, new unexpected things that are equally as laden with lessons and beauty.
Happy New Year to you and yours. Lift each other up this year. Love hard. Lean on your neighbor when you have to. (They can handle it.) We’re all going to be just fine.