2016 Review

If not for anyone other than myself, I like to reflect on the previous year. I spent some time this morning looking back at my recaps from the past few years. Michael and I often say we've packed a lot of life into just a few years. The front of our Christmas card this year had the word "Blessed" across our most recent family photo. It wasn't meant to proclaim abundance, wealth or any type of prideful expression. In fact, it is meant to stand as a testament of the blessed redemption our lives represent. Our smiles are genuine. The photo shoot was the second attempt at getting that one amazing shot I had been hoping for. It represents truth and reality, just the way our lives bear testimony of the good, the bad, the painful, the hilarious and everything in between.
We started 2016 with a one month old baby and the year that has unfolded for us as parents has been nothing short of chaotic and amazing. We were blessed to stand before our church with family by our side to dedicate our sweet daughter to the Lord, our commitment to raise her with an understanding and knowledge of the Lord. I can't help but pray over her heart and ask for her to know the amazing love of our Savior and how He's orchestrated our family.

This year can be summed up with two words for Violet: milestones and moments. She's had a big brother to keep up with so she crawled at five months, walked at 10 months and has been on the go most of her life. She chose me and only me which drastically altered my original plan to go back to work after 12 weeks off. Instead, I would find myself working three hour stints and racing to get back to nurse my daughter. To this day she still won't take a bottle, despite being able to drink from a straw for months, and she won't have anything to do with any kind of milk in a cup of any sort. And yet, these moments mark the memories of this year. The times I've held her, consoled her, rocked her, watched her explore, witnessed her affection for her brother... Oh the bond they have! These two are simply inseparable and the feeling it mutual. My heart could nearly explode at their relationship, her "bubby" as she calls him. Life with two kids has certainly been challenging and exhausting and yet our family feels all the more fuller and complete. 

We enjoyed a visit from Poppy for several weeks in April. We didn't know then that it would be our last. Just three days shy of the new year, the Lord would call him home. Looking back at these pictures and the times we had with him those weeks are now precious memories. 

We were yet again blessed to visit Michael's parents in Florida and spend a fun and very hot week in Orlando during the summer. It was just the beginning of "Mom's Summer Camp of Fun & Learning" where my best laid plans to fill my children's summer with activity, learning and fun proved to be quite a challenge with two kids at such different stages. It was, however, one of the most wonderful opportunities for me to spend quality time with my E, learning, studying, and entering his world. It was ground-breaking for us both. 

Eli turned 8 in May and started 3rd grade in August. It turned into a turning point for his education with new accommodations and breakthroughs that have proven to be helpful for him both at school and home. So many of you have offered prayers, support, encouragement and advice and for those of you who know what it's like to advocate on your child's behalf, I simply couldn't be prouder of how far he's come and the progress he's displaying. He is a caretaker of his sister, an inventor of all things, creator, lover of outdoors and master negotiator. This year has shown so much of these qualities as his personality and God-given talents continue to develop and emerge. 

As I've gradually stepped back into work, my role changed with the addition of my mom taking on the Marketing at Chick-fil-A. If I can camp here for a moment, this is yet another example of God's redeeming work in my life. When I hesitantly but willingly stepped out on faith to walk away from leading the Career Center, I knew the Lord was leading me yet I felt as if I was leaving my true "niche." God has abundantly provided for me to fulfill this role now working for Chick-fil-A by providing professional development, career training and strategic planning for our leadership team - all while allowing me to maintain my priority as wife and mom. I simply stand in awe of Him and how He's provided!

We celebrated Violet's first birthday, we've enjoyed the wonder of our children at Christmas and even now as we still grieve the loss of Poppy, I cannot deny the outpouring of God's grace on us this year.

It's been a year of firsts, a year of blessings, a year full of family and memories, and now a year of saying goodbye. I'm turning the page on 2016 and excited to share (later) how I feel the Lord leading me for the new year to come. 


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