"As we continue our journey as children of God, let's maintain a hopeful spirit looking on towards a future full of things so marvelous that we can't imagine it..."
I love a good year-end post. It's humbling in a way to reflect back on a full year and all the goodness that has been granted to us. It feels almost like a bird's-eye view - being able to see the big picture - pulling you out of the weeds to see the beauty below. It's human nature sometimes to focus so much on all the things that aren't going right, all the wishes that haven't been granted, all the stress and mundane routine in the day to day. But reflection is a powerful thing, and when I write these year-end posts, I get to look back at 12 months of saved photo albums and literally thousands and thousands of pictures. Though trying to narrow them down for one blog post is not easy, it's one of my most enjoyable experiences. And it's also one of the reasons I continue to make yearly photo books. This year's arrived just in time for Christmas, and it's my biggest one yet. I maxed out the pages allowed!
Once again, God was good to us in 2016. We took new adventures, tried new things, made new friends, spent half the year planning a dream vacation, and the other half of the year sitting on bleacher seats it seems! And as good as all the memories feel, I have this inner longing for 2017 and a new, fresh year. I'm not sure why or what it is that's calling to me, but I have been so ready to see what this next year has in store for us. But first, a brief look back and a proper goodbye to '16. Just a FEW of the highlights.
We celebrated an eight year old, found a new sledding hill close to home, threw a joint birthday party for our kiddos, watched a lot of UNI basketball, and received one heck of a Valentine's Day surprise. Normally not a fan of the January and February months, I remember these months being sweet and enjoyable this time around.
We celebrated a six year old, took a spur of the moment trip to watch our favorite team win a championship in St. Louis, passed swimming lesson classes, started baseball practice, enjoyed a beautiful Easter season and happily ushered in the warmer weather. This particular season - always a season of new hope and a breath of fresh air. Literally.
What a special few months these always are. We spent multiple weekends on Lake Ponderosa, rode a hometown Ferris wheel, played football with NFL standouts, enjoyed one epic and awesome 4th of July holiday filled with friends, spent hours at the pool, passed the swim test and walked off the high-dive for the first time, explored new places, said goodbye to a house full of memories and moved Mom and Dad into their new cozy digs, learned to ride our bikes without training wheels, made final plans for Florida - and played lots and lots and LOTS of baseball.
We started 1st and 3rd grade, watched Daddy coach his son's team, watched Jaden score a lot of touchdowns, rode in the first car of the Homecoming parade, enjoyed tailgate days and Saturdays in the Dome, soaked up the most beautiful Fall weather we can remember, went apple picking and bought way too many pumpkins, had our best and most fun Halloween yet, got invited to join an AAU basketball team and started spending our weekends in gyms throughout Northeast Iowa, and went on one incredible Disney vacation that has us excited and eager for them to finish the new Star Wars land so that we can get to planning our next trip! It was a good fall. One of the absolute best.
**The holiday season and the end of the year...**
A kitchen remodel, a full Thanksgiving that included family and friends, a fireworks show with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a sweet horseback ride in the snow. And then there was Christmas and pictures and stories yet to be told...
When I look back on this past year, I'm reminded that it is God who writes our story, and that we can make our plans, but He is the one directing our steps and creating our paths. We never planned for many of the blessings that came our way this year. We of course also didn't plan for some of the trials. But that's what makes me so eager for a fresh start and a new year. The unexpected ways He will surprise us, fill us with joy and gratitude, and grow us through the hard stuff. I'm looking forward to continuing to nurture our boys through His word, as our daily devotionals have become such a huge part of our day to day. I'm looking forward the birthday and holiday celebrations, the summer road trips and the simple nights at home, the basketball tournaments and the return of another long baseball summer. I'm looking forward to the untold and secret plans that Cody and I have for our family. At the end of every year, as I thumb through that yearly memory book of pictures, I wonder to myself what the next 12 months of pictures will look like. What story will they tell? What surprises are in store? What new adventures and experiences will we go on together?
Tomorrow the tree comes down, and we start with a fresh, clean slate.
We're ready for you, 2017.
..."God works every day in our lives and holds our past, present, and future in His hands. Let it go, let it be, and let God work."