Don’t worry – I’m not done cooking yet this year. We still have some serious holiday entertaining to do before I call it a wrap for 2016. But there’s something about this time of year that causes a lot of us to look back on the year that’s about to finish, and Advent is the church season when we celebrate the new church year. This past year has been brutal for a lot of people, and a lot of us are ready to shove it behind us and not look back. But a few really good things happened in my life in 2016, too.
We’ve been in Houston for about two and a half years now, and there’s something about that “settled” feeling which is really comfortable, but also a bit odd when we start to feel at home in a place that is still pretty new.
Last year at this time, I was getting ready to start a full-time job. After piecing together part-time work which sometimes, but not always, amounted to full-time hours for the better part of nine years, I was excited to get back into the swing of things, and to have a consistent schedule at one full-time position. After almost exactly a year here, I still love my job, I really enjoy my colleagues, and I try not to take for granted how close my work is to our home and church. I’m really grateful. Our whole family is happier when I’m working, and that tells me that I’m in a good place.
The other exciting thing that happened in 2016 is that I started writing for the Mockingbird Blog. I can hardly talk about this experience without welling up with tears of gratitude. I told Neil last week that mockingbird is the biggest thing that I didn’t know I needed. I have all of these words, and they needed a stage. Not only do I now have a stage, but I have a lighting crew, a director, a producer, and amazing stagehands to make my words look great. I am so, so grateful for this experience, and I’m going to keep sending them words until they tell me to stop, and maybe even that won’t make me quit. I was even able to attend and speak at a mockingbird conference in Oklahoma City, and I had more fun than should have been allowed in a church. I am so, so grateful.
And so, 2016, for me, might be the year that I started to peak my head out of the mom-and-moving fog and started to find who I am on the other side of that. I still have the mom fog, but I’m starting to feel my way out of it. Maybe. I don’t want to jinx it. Of our seven years in Minnesota, I spent 80 weeks pregnant, 47 months nursing, and at least 3 months moving or getting ready to move. I spent a lot of that time wondering what was next. Let’s not talk about the mental gymnastics required to keep track of little boots and gloves and polar fleece everything. LIFE IS HARD. But it wasn’t the kind of hard that was tragic (thanks be to God), and it wasn’t the kind of hard that goes away all at once. And so, I’m just grateful for the gradual clearing of the fog, and to be moving on to the next stage. In all of that, I’m so grateful I’ve had this little blog to keep me going. This continues to be a great little place marker in the world for me, and I’m so thankful for it, and for anyone who has read it and encouraged me in it.
I wanted to say all of that before I completely closed (ahem, slammed) the door on 2016. I don’t know what will happen in 2017. At this time next year, God willing, I’ll have a fourth grader and a first grader. Mercy. I’ll hopefully breach the 700-recipe mark on Ina’s list of recipes (almost there!). This might be the year that I stop giving Neil grey hair and finally live into the hope that I’ll keep him young, but don’t hold your breath on that count.