Saturday, December 31, 2016


I can still remember writing my end of the year reflection this time last year. Simply put, it had been a GOOD year for us- a year of adventures and new life and fun times and business endeavors and growth. And I wrote a brief recap of all these things, thanking God, and expressing excitement over the year to follow. Now, I've been thanked and recognized for being an honest writer. So allow me to be honest.

I was not fully honest when I wrote that post.

I was thankful for how GOOD that year was.
I was excited about what was to come.
But mostly, I was terrified.

You see, I hold the title of "World's Worst Person at Dealing with Change." To me, change robs me of everything comfortable and controlled and consistent in my life. And 2016 had a big change in store for us. I felt our little family of three had just learned how to function as a unit; and here I was, uprooting all that was known and throwing us into the unknown.

A baby.

How were we going to function now? How many things in our daily lives would have to shift, or even be sacrificed? It wasn't just the newborn stage I was terrified of (though that's a huge part of it- add "World's Worst At Parenting a Newborn" to my list of titles), it was the idea of the unknown that had me worried.

But regardless of my worry, 2016 came. While the first few months felt much like my "normal," May hit. And it hit with everything I feared. I will forever remember the summer of 2016 as a very hard season. With every night spent up with a screaming baby, with every glimpse at friends off having summer adventures, with every struggle with a suddenly rebellious three year old, with every day that passed with seemingly nothing accomplished, I felt a pull towards 2015, when things were GOOD. I often wanted a time machine to either take me back to that time, or even to propel me past where I was.

Do you see the flaw here in my logic? The inevitable lesson I had to learn? Because I didn't. And it wasn't until my four year old showed me this flaw that I realized it.

In the summer, I managed to get out of the house and leave my baby boy to take my daughter to two shows, one in Dallas for Beauty and the Beast, and the second at the MISD Performing Arts Center to see The Little Mermaid. While past summers were dedicated to doing many fun things with just the two of us, those two moments were the only opportunities I had to get out and have some mommy/Emma time. I felt a ton of guilt spending so little time with her and worried those two outings would hardly suffice. I would often battle anxiety that she would feel less loved and secure. But I was thankful for those two shows, and it was obvious she had a blast.

Every day, we pass the MISD Performing Arts Center on our way to her school. Each time, without fail, Emma points to it and exclaims, "That's where Ariel lives, Mommy!" Then the visual reminder typically launches us into a conversation about seeing Belle and Ariel, and how much fun we had. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that our trips to see those two shows are the only things she ever mentions about the summer. She never mentions a screaming baby or a mommy breaking down randomly into tears or all the times she had to entertain herself because her mom was too overwhelmed and busy handling her baby bother. When I realized this, I asked her, "Emma, did you enjoy the summer?" Surprisingly, she emphatically nodded her head and said "Yes, it was GOOD!"

It then dawned on me. My daughter had a hard summer. She had to learn how to no longer be the only child in the house. She watched many things around her shift quickly, and none of it was in control. She rebelled against it, threw tantrums, and her normally even, sweet disposition grew angry and upset often. Yet, she never remembers that about the summer. She only remembers the GOOD.

In order to produce GOOD olive oil, the olive tree needs to endure harsh winds, and the fruit must be pressed.
In order to produce GOOD wine, the grapes must struggle in the heat, and the fruit must be crushed.
In order to produce GOOD pottery, the clay must be molded, shaped, and then set into fire.

All of these processes are hard.
All of these processes are GOOD.

2016 has taught me that the two are not mutually exclusive. It was a hard year AND it was a GOOD year. For every long night spent with a screaming baby, there was a morning of cuddles, smiles, and coos. For every house chore that was unfinished, there was a family member or friend to step in and provide relief. For every dinner I simply could not cook, there was a meal provided. For every "missed" vacation or fun "Facebook-worthy" outing, there were milestones, new adventures, and sweet moments. For every time I wanted to go back to 2015, there was a reminder that I didn't get to hold and kiss and cuddle my baby boy until this year. Blessing upon blessings, treasures and love and grace and joy all wrapped up into only 366 days- that was our 2016.

Simply put, it has been a GOOD year for us.

Do you know what else olive oil, wine, and pottery share in common? There is a Designer behind each of those processes. With experienced, tender, nail-marked hands, He crafts with intentionality and purpose. He knows what His work will accomplish. And His work always accomplishes GOOD.

2016 was good, because He is GOOD. Every single blessing, treasure, love, grace, and joy comes from Him, and I am thankful.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

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