Wait, what? Time for my yearly letter already? When I realized that I needed to get this post written yesterday, I fleetingly thought to myself, “I think I’m just gonna skip it this year.” I’m not sure why, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I suddenly couldn’t imagine what it was that I had to say to this year. Not because it was incredibly bad, and not because it was especially good, but honestly I think it’s because it was a bit of a blur. But, I’ve written this letter every year since my very first post on New Years Eve 2015. So I can’t go breaking tradition now. And once I start writing, I always find that I actually do have something to say. It’s the getting started that is usually the struggle.
365 days. Really, really full days. Seemed we were constantly on the go, with very little down time. Well, we had down time, just not the specific kind that I consider necessary for my overall well being. I love going places and doing things, but I’m one of those people that needs quiet time to myself at least once a week to keep from feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. And if I go too long without it, it shows. My anxiety level goes up and I start to shut down. So I’ve really got to make more of an effort to create that space for myself.
Overall though, I’d say it was a really good year for us.
We definitely had a handful of bad days. Actually, we probably had some of our worst arguments to date this year. The kind where you look at each other and think, “Who even are you?”
One of them started with a disagreement about shoes of all the silly things, and ended with Jeff walking a couple of miles home in the dark cold night. 😂 It didn’t feel funny at all at the time, but it’s pretty funny now.
Like everyone else, there are times that we disagree. There are some things that we will never see eye to eye on. There are times where arguments about the most ridiculous and unimportant things will suddenly and unexpectedly become about something much bigger. And there are times that we let those arguments get the best of us and we forget what really matters. But we always know that is not who we want to be, personally and as a couple. So we find our way back to the stuff that matters, and try to remember how to love each other well.
We took more short trips this year than we ever have. It’s always fun to get away, and this year brought us several getaways with friends, with family, and for just the two of us.
It ushered in our youngest daughter’s senior year, which has already been packed full of events and college planning and forms and fees. Good Lord have mercy at ALL the fees. If y’all have children, start saving now. Ha. Senior fees, photo sessions, cap and gown fees, Guild fees, formals, college application fees, housing application fees, oh and let’s not forget college orientation fees. That one really stumps me. They want to charge $125 for her to attend a mandatory freshman 2 day orientation. And an extra $50 per person for Jeff and I as her guests. Is this some sort of a trick? Not sure what that $50 pays for exactly, but from what I gather we get to sit through seemingly endless hours of information overload and get a parent reception with some cookies and drinks maybe? That better be a darn good $50 cookie. Lol. I know we already have one kid in college, but she took a different route, doing her freshman year at a community college then transferring to the university as a sophomore so we bypassed all this “extra” stuff. So this is all new to us.
Still, it’s an exciting time for her and I’m praying she gets there and loves it and thrives and follows her heart and makes lifelong friends and finds a career path that brings her joy and financial security. Because this Mama will find a way to pay whatever fees necessary, and spend 2 long boring days of my life that I’ll never get back in parent orientation if it means helping my girl find her best life. 😂
This year also brought the opportunity to do some long overdue improvements on the exterior of our home. I know all too well how stressful renovations can be, so it was both something I was super excited about, and also super stressed out about. Especially when choosing materials and colors, and trying to stay within our budget. But luckily for me, I have a cousin that runs his own renovation company, and he did such a good job and made it as stress free as possible, keeping things cleaned up as much as possible as he went and getting us the look we wanted within the parameters of the budget we had to work with. We got new siding and trim, new windows, replaced the two large sections of our deck that we had not gotten to when Jeff replaced the deck around the pool, and he also built us a lean-to with a tin roof to provide a covered area on the deck. I love it so much and can not wait to get the rock pressure washed, the yard cleaned up and new flowers and plants planted in the spring so we can truly enjoy the space.
Our oldest daughter finished out fall semester in college with a nearly 4.0 grade point average. That was with a schedule full of really tough stem classes and labs, so that’s a real accomplishment. And she’s getting ready to move out of her apartment and into the most adorable old house with the most precious pink claw foot tub you’ve ever seen. She will start her senior year in the fall. When I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she sent a list back and at the top was “otoscope”. So I texted her back and said,”You mean the thing doctors use to look in people’s ears?” “Yes”, she said.
“So, you’re telling me that for Christmas, you want an otoscope, so you can look at people’s ear drums… for fun?”
“Well, yeah. I really do.”
Ok then. I think it’s safe to say she was meant to be a Doctor. 😂
And so this Mama bought her an otoscope. Did y’all know you can actually order those on Amazon? You totally can. And I totally did.
I started off this year with the intention of writing more, but somehow ended up writing less. Mostly this year felt like I was just passing through it. Jumping from one event to the next one on the calendar. Crossing off items on to do lists and going to the next thing. I did get some more of that book I keep saying I’m writing written, although I put it right back on the shelf again shortly after I picked it up. And that’s ok. It’s a work in progress and so am I.
2019 also brought me a lot further in my quest to find a way to forgive the other woman. I’d have to say that was definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. It brought me a new understanding of what forgiveness truly means and how to truly be able to let the hatred go. I’m pretty proud of the level of forgiveness I’ve been able to reach. That doesn’t mean that we would ever be friends. It doesn’t mean that I’ll ever have feelings of endearment for her. It doesn’t mean that I won’t ever think about the pain she caused and it doesn’t mean that the human side of me just plain doesn’t really like her because of what she did. But it does mean that I can see her through God’s filter. It does mean that I can wish for her and her family to have the same redemption that my family has found and the same happiness that I want for my own family. And it means that we can unexpectedly find ourselves sitting about 6 seats away from each other on the same aisle in church and it doesn’t phase me one bit. Yep. That happened. And it was fine.
Jesus loves both of us. We both have a seat at His table. And if those seats are in close proximity to each other, that’s ok. Call me crazy if you want, but we aren’t gonna be able to avoid seeing each other in Heaven. So might as well accept it and get used to it now right? Ha. Earlier this year I reached out to her husband by text to discuss the church situation, and see how he felt about it and to see how he was doing, and I found a lot of peace in hearing from him that they were in a good place and that he was happy. So, yes. Sometimes I see her at church. And sometimes we end up in close proximity to each other. And that’s not something I would have thought at one time that I’d be capable of handling. But God wants the same good things for both of us, and I guess that is what gives me the peace that passes all understanding, and allows me to share that space. Because my focus is on Him.
She did something awful that she never formally apologized for…to me anyway, and I have no idea where her head and heart are at concerning any of it. But when it comes down to it, that’s between her and her family, and mostly it’s between her and God, so it’s not my place to judge her heart. So, instead of choosing to hate her for it, I pray that she has made things right with God, and I pray regularly for her family, that they would have the same happiness and blessings that I want for my own. It wasn’t easy to get to a place where I could do that, and it took a really long time, but finally getting to a place where I can wish her the best has definitely brought my own heart a lot more peace.
So overall, 2019, I’d say you treated us well. Even if you felt a bit rushed. A bit overloaded. Maybe a bit stressful. But I’m pretty sure that was all on me, and not really your doing at all. We filled our days up, and this year was chock full of really good things. So if I had to pick a resolution for 2020, it would be to try to slow down, take each moment as it comes, and try to soak it all in a bit more and not get so stressed about getting things done and looking so far to the next thing that I miss so much of the now. Because by this time next year, we will be empty nesters. 😱 How did that happen so fast? Advice to you younger parents out there, the same advice that I heard a million times and yet it didn’t really sink in til I actually found myself here… don’t get ahead of yourselves. Don’t get so caught up in the stress of parenthood and your daily to do lists that you miss all the little moments. Because it really is true that one day you suddenly wake up and they are GROWN. And you wish you would have listened to all the older Mama’s to savor it all. Because while it feels like forever to you now, and all you really want is a long uninterrupted nap, it truly is over in a flash. So take my advice, even though I still obviously struggle to take it myself, cut yourself a break and stop over scheduling yourself and stressing over the unimportant stuff like the dishes, and snuggle those babies while you still can.
It’s hard to believe we are about to begin a new decade. The last 10 years brought me some of the greatest joys, and also the most devastating heartache. Halfway through it, my world got shaken and turned upside down and inside out. I found myself broken, and my world unrecognizable.
It was dark, terrifying, and incredibly disorienting.
But the second half brought me redemption. Healing. Wisdom. Deeper relationships with friends, with family, and with my husband. It brought me a deeper sense of self, and brought me purpose. It brought out gifts that had been hidden away, under the walls I had built, and revealed an inner strength I had no idea that I possessed. But mostly, I found a closeness with God that I didn’t even know I’d been missing. A dependence on a Heavenly Father to make all things new. A new understanding of His promise to work ALL things for our good.
So thank you, 2019, and the whole past ten years. You broke me in ways I never could have imagined, but you also gave me a new life I never could have imagined. And I came out of it, battle weary and with more than a few scars for sure, but stronger, wiser, more empathetic, bolder, and a better version of myself than I would have been without having been refined by walking through your firestorm. And knowing, more than ever before, that no matter what life throws at us, and no matter what surprises lie ahead of us, God goes before us, walks beside us, and cleans up the messes we leave behind us. He’s there in the dark, and He’s there in the light. And He always, always keeps His promise to work all things for our good.
While I know I can never forget the pain of the past decade, I’ll mostly try to remember the goodness. Because there was SO much goodness. So, I walk into this new decade thankful, hopeful, and expectantly watching for all the goodness the next ten years will bring. I pray it brings so much goodness for all of you, and for your children. I pray that all of our children, as they make their own way in life, find a deeper relationship with God that will carry them through all that they have ahead of them. I pray for blessings on all of our families, and that the next ten years brings an overflow of goodness to us all.
Happy new year. Happy new decade. May it be the best one yet.
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Amy Thurston Gordy