Reflecting on {2015}: A Difficult Year.


Be honest. 
Be real. 
Rely on those who love you. 
Give grace to those who don't understand you. 
Give grace to yourself when you don't understand who you are. 
Remember that this too shall pass and when it does, you'll be able to see why this path is what God chose for you. 
Forgive others. Always.  Even when they have done the unthinkable.  Even when they have betrayed you.  Made you vulnerable.  Broke your spirit.  Took life from you....Keep their secret anyway.  Love them anyways.  You'll never regret that choice, no matter how hard it was at the time.  
Stay guarded.  We have these lessons in life for a reason. 
Be careful to consider that sometimes your "gut feelings" or intuition isn't really that at all.  It's the Holy Spirit moving through you. 
Sometimes cry the ugly cry.  Even if it's every day. 
But when you stop, make sure to look around and see what you do have, what you didn't lose, what you did do right, and just how very blessed you are despite your circumstances. 
Don't beat yourself up. 
You're an awesome parent.  Even when your crying and angry at yourself for the wrong response or losing your cool.  You're still the apple of their eye.
No matter what social media tells you, every woman and man out there has a problem.  They have a dark grey cloud full of truths and lies that they are working to hide or working hard to release.  Be careful of the ones who appear to be the most perfect--their clouds are usually the darkest.
Haters are going to hate.  Don't let yourself get down on their opinions when they haven't even put on your shoe, much less tried to walk in it.  
Trim the fat.  Chose those who bring life to yours and not take it away.  Chose those who make you and your spouse a community and not a couple stuck on an island. 
Because that's aren't really on an island.  There is a sea of lives out there fighting the same rip-current matching your same ferocity.  
Our world is falling and falling fast. 
Don't forget who you are.  Don't forget to be the church, but when the church has to surround you, let them.  Don't feel guilty.  You'll get back on your feet again and have the chance to Be the Church for someone else. 
Trust is precious.  Don't break it within your people.  Don't take advantage of your people.  Forgiveness may come easy, but forgetting only gets harder and that's okay.  The world will jade you.  Sometimes, you need it.  Let it jade you.  The year of thirty three has proved anyone is capable of anything.  Anyone.  Anything.  Devastating.
It's okay to hurt.  It's okay to release.  It's okay to close your inner circle.
When your family needs you.  Be there.  Even if you have to throw your kids in the car and drive four hours on a whim.  Show support if you're physically able.  If you're not, know that you made up for that support during the times you could be there.
Be who you are with. Mute those group text conversations sometimes.  Focus on who is next to you.  Especially your parents.  They won't always be there.
Admit your own mistakes.  Own them.  Correct them.  
Communicate your feelings.  Don't be afraid to be you. 
Cry again.  It feels good.  It's okay. 
Love those kids, but get you some time away.  Life is balance.  You'll miss them the first second you're away and come back more in love with their little faces than you would have ever expected as you were walking out the door.
Google will never ever make it better.  It will always make it worse. 
When people aim at you, don't fire back with equal haste.  Show them Jesus, even when your blood is boiling like hell.  Especially when that's family.  If their words will always stick with you, be sure that your words will always stick with them.  
When people without children stand in judgement of your parenting, laugh; don't take lessons from people who aren't parents.  Remind yourself that karma is a bitch.  It was to you before you had kids and it will be to them if they ever have kids.  
We all had to learn that one the hard way.
Your spouse comes first.  When you're mad, when you're screaming "I told you so," for the 50th time that month, and when you're wanting to be selfish....Nothing is more important to your family than your marriage.  
When you don't have the answers, don't die trying.  Listen to said husband when he holds your hand and says, "I love you.  God's got this.  He will guide us through this time."  
Remember again that Google is your worst enemy.  Especially when your child is not healthy.
If your child is unhealthy, remember you know them best of all.  When a person tries to impose his or her unwarranted advice, smile at them and nod and remember they are not the doctor, or doctors, and/or medical team surrounding your child, just as equally, they do not know your child like you and your spouse do.  You are your own child's advocate, even to them. 
Don't hide.  Be you.  Mistakes and all. 
Love Jesus.
Don't hold grudges.  For some, this easy, for others this seems impossible.  Those of you who find it impossible, work at making it possible.  Your life will be so much easier.
When your days are getting the best of you, find your tribe and don't let them go. 
But whatever you do, do not let a Chubby Puppy get stuck in your hair. 

In October of 2014, I had no idea what lie ahead over the next twelve months.  I wouldn't say I am quite ready to commit to seeing the "beauty" in any of it yet, and even though things are slowly coming back together, I certainly can't say that I have followed all of my own advice above, but looking backwards over a 12 months span, I've come much farther than I give myself credit for.  Maybe because some of that advice came from knowing how my mindset should've been but wasn't.  
So many great things happened over the last year, but so many lessons were learned.  Adult problems were aplenty this year, but with that we gained so much wisdom.  Adam's and my trust was violated time and again in the most surprising of ways, numerous times by numerous offenders--some individually and some corporately.  We learned a big lesson that the two of us are far too trusting.  It's way more fun to live life trusting those around you, but apparently, it's also really stupid.  :)

We also learned about community this year in such an incredible way that I just want to continue to scream it from the roof tops.  In every single's just been as life-changing as the upsets in our lives this year.  It's funny because I am one of those introverts that can be an extrovert when I am in a comfortable surrounding, so to see community rally together in support of me is just a hard concept to grasp, but it's been a MIGHTY strong impact on me.  From my appendectomy, to little things in between, to just last week when Preslie underwent some invasive testing, we have been showered with love--community, teachers, friends, family, strangers.  Just love. 

As October comes, it comes with reflection of just how much we have been through in a short twelve months.  I feel deep tonight and I am very transparent.  Not all minds are made alike; some people find those with transparency irritating or negative, but I am not one of those.  As my best friend Paige always says, it's the beauty in ashes that we need to show the world.  Fires were ablaze in this household this year but they did not overcome, they did not shake our marriage {okay, some days they did but those tremors only created the ability to fortify our surroundings} and instead of pretending these blazes did not exist, I'd rather show the world {okay 52 people} that they did exist and we extinguished them all.  While still a little burnt, we are coming out better, stronger, and wiser.  I can't wait to tell my girls stories that rose upon the foundation of their family.  Good, bad, and ugly...all they will see is a family that sustained and the community that lifted them up. 

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