We’re enjoying a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve with our family. Jeremy and Christian are alternating between football games and shuffleboard and Ellee’s been diligently working away at her latch hook rug. And as for me, after eating a few too many pigs in a blanket and leftover Christmas cookies, I found myself in a fairly reflective mood so I decided to sit down and write my 2016 year in review. Because in my opinion, looking back at where you came from is just as important as looking ahead to where you want to be. So here goes…
In January, I learned that sometimes people you love go through really horrible things. And it’s excruciatingly hard. And sometimes it will make you cry tears of such sorrow that you feel as though nothing will ever by okay again. But little by little, you’ll realize that life will just keep going. And that the best thing you can do, is to keep going along with it, looking for little ways that you can make things just a tiny bit better.
In February, I was reminded that living a life in ministry is strange sometimes, and not just for us, but for our kids. During January through March, Christian and Ellee spent many hours on the weekends in the waiting room of the ICU at the hospital while we visited with Michael and the Einfeldts. But honestly, they were mostly fine with it. They brought books and toys and iPads to keep themselves occupied and they always enjoyed visiting the cafeteria when we were done. Sometimes you can’t protect your kids from the troubles of life. But you can show them what it is to serve others. And you can show them how to walk through those times, as compassionately and as graciously as possible. And you’ll learn that in the long run, they will be better for having walked those difficult roads as well.
During March I observed that even though we’ve served in youth ministry for over thirteen years, we still love hanging out with teens. I also learned that sometimes you have to think outside of the box, case in point when we held our first Nerf Wars event at the church. I suppose it was a bit of an odd thing to have a huge group of teens running around shooting Nerf darts all throughout a church that is nearly 200 years old, but in reality it was amazing and fun and thankfully no one got their eye shot out.
During April, I started the beginning of my 2016 Photography year. Since I shoot on-location, this means that I usually start booking clients when the weather warms up. Claire was my first client of the year and she was an absolute delight to work with. She would be the first of many wonderful clients that I would go on to work with all throughout this year. Even though this year would prove to be extra busy, I’m thankful that God would richly bless my business and that I would be able to work with many wonderful and beautiful families.
In May, one of my lifelong dreams would come true, and that is that one of my sisters (or hopefully both someday) would bring their many children out to New York to visit us. My younger sister Sarah and her husband Don drove out to see us for a few days and we could not have been happier. We had an incredible visit with their five little ones and made some fun New York memories with them all. Once again, I was reminded of my deep love for my family and how even though we don’t live close by, we can always make the very most of the times together that we do have.
In June, I was reminded about what a gift our son Christian is. That month, he graduated from 6th Grade and won many academic awards for his hard work. We were most proud of the two community service awards that he earned as well.
Christian’s graduation from elementary school also marked his graduation into our Youth Group. It was something that we’ve anticipated for years (having our son in our Youth Group ministry) and so far it’s been awesome with a few natural ups and downs. We have loved seeing Christian invite his school friends to Youth Group and we pray that God will give us wisdom and grace as we continue on throughout his Jr. and Sr. High years.
In July, I welcomed the shift in ministry. Summers are always a different kind of busy but also a needed change. This summer, we took a group of students and leaders up to NTS Camp and also spent a weekend in Hershey Park as well. But my favorite times were out at the beach for our weekly Youth Group meetings, enjoying the beauty that is Long Island while teaching our teens about Jesus.
August marked four months since I started a new workout adventure with Hot Yoga. It’s good to try new things and I’m so very glad that I tried this. Hot Yoga has become a wonderfully healthy way for me to destress and detoxify. It’s been amazing for my anxiety and for me has produced the perfect outlet to become more balanced in life. I’ve met beautiful people and to this day continue to be thankful for the 104 degrees of room heat that has been a major blessing in my life this year.
In September, thanks to our friends the Penney’s and my parents, I was so incredibly thankful to get the chance to travel again with my best friend. We took a 10 day trip to London and Paris and we were overjoyed at our adventures. We have crazy busy lives and at times are pulled in so many directions, but we’ve found that these trips are incredibly strengthening and relaxing and just what we need to help ourselves regroup and refocus on our lives together. When we are strong, I know that it blesses our family and our ministry together, so these times are so valuable to us.
Also, the world is awesome. There are so many beautiful things and people and countries to see and I am so very thankful that we get the chance to go out and explore.
In October, we enjoyed cheering Christian on as he ran on the Jr. High Cross Country team for the first time. We’ve always enjoyed seeing our son do a variety of sports, but especially enjoyed seeing him try something new. He turned out to be pretty good and knocked a good minute off his time by his last race. As we enter these tumultuous teenage years, I’m learning so much about the importance of finding good and healthy ways for us all to deal with everything. Running helped Christian tremendously and for that, we were very thankful.
In November, I learned the importance of helping our sweet Ellee venture out trying new things as well. Fourth Grade has proven to be a challenge this year, so there have been many nights of tears because of school and it’s difficulties for both of us. But I’m learning that through this all, while school is very important it’s also so important for us to remind our daughter that God created her exactly how He wanted her to be and also that she has many other gifts and talents and opportunities as well. One of these is that Ellee is learning violin this year. And watching her pluck out simple songs and even using her bow is something that has brought our hearts great joy.
There are many things that our kids can try, and helping them be well rounded is a joyful challenge that we are embracing.
And now we are back to December, and the end of this wonderful and difficult and beautiful year. Looking back, I’ve learned and experienced so very much this year. I’m thankful for the good times and the hard times as well. I’m thankful for the laughter and the tears and the joy and the pain. There are many things I’m looking forward to in this coming year, but for tonight, I want to thank God for everything that He has brought this past year. I’m most thankful for the things I’ve learned and the ways I’ve grown. I’m most thankful for the incredible family that God has given me… for my husband who loves me and supports me and for our kids who are hard but wonderful and challenging as well.
And for everyone reading this blog, I am thankful for you all as well. Thank you for joining me on the adventures of this past year and I look forward to sharing many new ones in the New Year to come. Happy New Years dear friends!