I love everything about a new year. I think it is the same quirk that makes me buy new journals and new pens every third trip to Target that also gives me a giddy feeling over a blank calendar. Just the idea of fresh starts carries with it some sort of magic that makes my dreams bigger. But, before I jump in to all the things I hope the new year has in store, I want to remember this year and the grace weaved through every piece of it.
I have always loved the Israelite practice in the old testament of building an altar of remembrance when God showed up for them. It strengthened their faith and left reminders for the generation following behind that God has been there before, he will be there again. In some ways, a look back at this sweet year is my altar, an offering of gratitude for the things only He can do.
We spent Christmas at my parents’ home in California and had just found out a baby boy would be joining our crew in May. Then right after the new year, we went to the ocean, to my favorite spot on earth, a little pocket of soft white sand and steep cliffs. We threw Harper in their air and took a million pictures and remembered that there is nothing too broken for God to fix.
In February I flew to Santa Barbara for the IF: Gathering at my best friend, Kristin’s, house. We prayed on the beach, had omelets at Jeannine’s, went home and ate hummus and pita chips, then curled up with warm blankets and journals and listened to life-changing words. And I spent at least half of the free minutes of the weekend talking to Leah, a sweet connection of a friend through Kristin. Leah is hands down one of the most gentle souls on earth, and she is crazy brave. Her stories of bringing light to the dark, dark world of the sex industry inspired me as much as any Christine Caine or Jen Hatmaker talk, and I came home changed, inspired, so ready to do something in large part because of conversations with her.
I met Kelly and Ashlee, two women who had their own IF: Gathering experiences here in Spokane and wanted to bring the event to our home church. A team of seven of us grew out of that, and these women became mentors, sisters, and friends for a lifetime.
Cannon Lee joined our family on May 9th, and it was the sweetest labor and delivery I could have hoped for. But what might have been the best memory for me is when I called Emily at 11:00 in the morning and told her I was heading to the hospital. She hung up the phone, called back ten minutes later and said, “the kids and I are on our way, you tell Cannon he better wait for me!” Emily walked in to the delivery room at 5:00pm, a four hour road trip with three kids under five behind her. Sometimes- all the time, really- I can’t even believe God gave me the friends that he did.
This past summer will forever be remembered as the summer at the lake. My college mentor, Fro, spent four days with us at Em’s parents’ home on Newman Lake, something he does every year. These days are always some of my favorites. We eat and laugh, eat and laugh some more. And my parents moved in to their home on Liberty Lake, where Harper quickly got over her fear of the water and we spent lots of hours on the paddle boards getting sun kissed shoulders. The lavish blessing of being in homes on the lake is not lost on me.
Alex and I celebrated our third anniversary in August, and I think somewhere around the time the mornings got cool enough to welcome the fall, I started to get a hang of this two-kid gig. Not that I have it down, but I stopped feeling like I couldn’t function without another pair of hands around (i.e. Daddy).
Kristin and I both felt like God was bringing our love of writing in new directions, so she is living in to her gift of teaching the bible at alive + active, and I started putting my words here, on just enough brave. And because of the way my best friends modeled the need for Jesus every single day, a new morning routine was born in the Blackburn house: 5:15 alarm, coffee, bible. Every day. Three months of this has been the difference between me loving the word brave and me believing in the word brave.
We traveled to Arizona for my brother’s wedding and decided to not bring Harper on another airplane until she is seven. Cannon and I went to Santa Barbara in October and got to meet Ryen Kate, the sweetest, cutest little blue-eyed girl in the world. Alex plugged away at his last semester of nursing school and I taught two night classes, something I love doing with all of my heart.
Thanksgiving, graduation, and Christmas have come and gone now, and like many moms at this time of the year, I am purging our home because I absolutely cannot feel ready for a new year unless my house is de-cluttered. Alex and I are dreaming and setting goals for 2015 now, and we are beyond excited for what is on the horizon.
Of course along with all of days that marked our calendar, this last year brought with it so many lessons, dozens of sweet coffee dates, lots of great dinners with friends, many beautiful books read, the most humbling of parenting moments, and no shortage of need for forgiveness, too. This year has been a faith-changing one for me, something I want more than anything to live in step with in the days to come. And one other big thing happened this year: my friends told me I should keep writing. You will never know how much of an impact your encouragement has been.
I sit here with so much gratitude today, because our lives have been filled with goodness more than we deserve. Looking back is so good for the soul. There is no way to make sense of our stories except to believe that they are part of a bigger one, and that is the most comforting thing to take with us into a new year.