h a p p y n e w y e a r

2017. A new year has come again.

I'm thankful that this happens every year. I'm thankful that we get to tuck away another year, full of its own moments and seasons of hard and good, add it to the memories of all the years that have come before it, and crack open the binding of our newest addition. I'm thankful for the way that it makes me pause and consider, taking a bit of extra time to reflect on what has just passed and what lies ahead. I'm thankful for the planning it inspires, the old dreams that still remain and the new dreams that just begin to take root, and the hope that it refreshes in my heart. I'm thankful for the conversations that we have about what we've walked through and what we are facing. 

I'm thankful that it is new.

2016 was a hard year for me. It rubbed me raw. This past year was one marked by waiting, craving the answer to unfulfilled longings and finding the answer still to be, "not right now." It was a year marked by fear, fear springing from not knowing truly what my little one was battling and of being terrified that I wouldn't be able to help her. It was a year marked by exhaustion, exhaustion in figuring out how to be mama to my little, in staying on top of all that life held, in feeling like I was behind and forgetful with so much. It was a year marked by plummeting to the depths of certain sins in my life, feeling slapped across the face with how toxic and present they were and then embarrassed at how little I actually wanted to fight some of them. It was a year that felt like I was being pruned until I had nothing left. And yet, here I found the "new."

Here, in this place of looking back over the past 365 days of pruning and utter rawness, sits the start of being made new. I am face to face, again, with how desperately I need Jesus. He removes that fear; goodness, He utterly shatters that fear. He meets me in that place of unfulfilled longing and reminds me that He doesn't withhold one good thing from me when I walk with Him. He lets me fall on my exhausted face once again so He can gently pick me up and remind me that His grace is sufficient, His power is perfect in my weakness. And He gives me the greatest hope, time and time again, that those sins that seem so overbearing, so consuming, aren't the truest thing about me anymore. He's making me new.

I am so grateful that the little word that graces the middle spot of that catchy "Happy New Year!" phrase we all shout at midnight every December 31st holds a heavy amount of meaning, really wonderful life-changing meaning. 

And I am grateful for 2016. It was hard year, but it was threaded through with a lot of grace. That grace was found in the adventures experienced, the books read, the travels had, the food cooked, the holidays celebrated, the new opportunities given; but that grace was most especially found in the people that fill up my text message app and my everyday, the people who walk through the raw and the lovely with me, who do more and say more than I could ever write down, and who show me Jesus in every piece of it. In particular, the 2 souls that I've been given to love in the most tender way, the ones who are tangible pictures of the kindness of my Lord every hour of the day. 

This life of mine. It's full of beauty. It's full of beauty because of the one common thread that has weaved through my words here: the One who makes it all new.

2017, I'm glad to see you.

"let it go, learn to grow"

So here I wait in hope of you

All my soul's longing through and through

Dayspring from on high be near

Day Star in my heart appear

~ Christy Nockels, The Advent Hymn

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Back at the beginning of November I was in Georgia visiting some of our dearest ones. During the trip my friend, Liz, and I had many conversations about how the Lord was teaching both of us about to let things go; to ask ourselves, "okay, what's most important here?" and to make the most out of the things that He does, and realize the freedom that is found when all the other stuff stops being the big stuff. Because it was 11 o'clock at night and because we are moms of 5 year olds we "cleverly" came up with the line, inspired by Elsa, "let it go, learn to grow." So this has become our mantra, and though it was inspired by exhausted mama syndrome, it has sparked a lot of heart thoughts in me.

On my drive home from Georgia that week I mulled over that little phrase and started praying, "Lord, help me let those things go.....the ones I know and the ones I don't quite yet." And oh! what a swift and thorough answer He has given to that prayer, in just a matter of weeks. He has unearthed so many places where my fingers have held way to tightly to things, and so many of these things are places in life have been things that have nothing whatsoever to do with what the most important things are. It's a humbling road, my friends, when you finally see how obsessive over the minutiae of life you can get.....BUT....(you know I'll always have the but)....has it ever been freeing!

And the part that I have loved, loved, loved about this is the timing of it. It's Christmas time, the beautiful season of advent. The hope of this season, the mystery of the babe becoming man, the resounding joy knowing that our Savior was born and He lives, all of this has been the weightiest part of this December for me, in a way that it hasn't ever been before. It's held more weight because He has helped me "let go" of the things that matter far less than Him.

He's reshaped my vision to focus on savoring the anticipation of His coming and with that all the extra stuff has fallen into place. It's not about me this year. That's the difference. It's not the controlling, selfish, "but I want our home to look THIS WAY" attitude. It's seeing this season for what it is, what's it's meant to be. And every piece of it, imperfect and not-pinterest-worthy though they made be, has been treasured this year.

The paths that our God takes us down start from the oddest places sometimes, don't they? I love that about Him. And I can't wait to look back on the memories of this Christmas because I think they are going to be some of my most favorite yet. 

thanksgiving this year

Hello, friends. Happy Monday to you.

And this is not just any Monday. This is the first after Thanksgiving, truly Christmas season, twinkly lit Monday. Ooooooo, I'm giddy. Giddy that it's Christmas season. This year has extra sweetness woven through it for me but I shall share more about that later. Right now let's talk about Thanksgiving.

Did you all have a delicious Thanksgiving Day? I do hope so. I hope you watched those big balloons float down toward Macy's and ate that extra piece of pie and had those laughs around the table and played those card games. I hope that you made that list of what you were thankful for and that you aren't going to let it fall to the wayside now but, instead, let it weave a thicker thread of thankfulness into your everyday.

I felt that the Lord deeply impressed that on my heart this year. This Thanksgiving Day is beautifully set apart to ponder and share and remember what we are thankful for but it really ought to be an example of what we are seeking, often fighting, to do every single day -- to "give thanks in all circumstances." That phrase has been whirling around much in my mind this past week and I'm praying that the Lord will help me put feet to it even more. I always have something to be thankful for, even in the hardest of the hard. I always have something to be thankful for because I have Him.

This year we took our time. We woke up slowly. We went for a nice long walk, pausing to notice those last remaining gold and orange leaves and talk about the birds nest J discovered in a tree. We popped a can of pillsbury orange rolls and made eggs with tomatoes and feta cheese and watched the Macy's thanksgiving day parade as we sipped our coffee and orange juice. We made the feast, some things were from scratch because once you've tried Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes you can't have them any other way, and some things were pre-made because it was just simpler that way. We face-timed with our families and relished the fact that we could share stories and laughs with them hundreds of miles apart. We sat down to our decorated table with our plates piled high and gave all the appropriate groans of "I'm so full" by the end. We filled tupperware with leftovers and celebrated all over again the gift of having a dishwasher. We talked of what we were thankful for, we put on comfies and J built us a fire. AK went to bed supremely happy having finished off a s'more and filled with the knowledge that the Christmas tree would be going up the next day. We ate chocolate pecan pie, drank decaf and watched an episode of our current favorite tv show. And then the day came to an end, with several comments of how sweet and good and perfect a day it really truly was. 

It was the Thanksgiving Day we truly hoped it would be. Our hearts did ache missing the company of those precious people we get to call family, but we knew this was what we needed. The Lord gifted us these days to refresh our weary hearts. The past 4.5 days have been a nourishing balm for our little band, filled with all our favorite things that we enjoyed just the three of us....and Winnie too, of course. It was needed. It was prayers answered. The Lord's timing, you guys. I just can't get over it.