For someone contemplative by nature, December and its reflective character feel like a welcoming living room, a place that says “Hi, come on in and stay a while with your thoughts, your lessons, your happiest memories and your most meaningful changes.” December and I are basically best friends, because do you know me? Stay here with my thoughts?! I will, thank you.
But I must start with obvious: it’s been a hard year. I had three babies age three and under in my home, so, while that's been an enormous blessing, I wouldn't call it easy. We spent the majority of the year keeping bellies full and noses wiped and then navigating the new world of “the spectrum.” But what made it hard wasn’t just all the things. Everyone has things. What made it hard was that motherhood shook my life up in a way I didn’t see coming and couldn’t see through to the next step. I am so heavily type A that this messed with all my feelings, and a lot of my closest people saw edges rubbed embarrassingly raw (I basically want a do-over for May through August).
What made it hard was me.
But what made it great was grace. While I wouldn’t say I’m speaking from the wisdom of the other side—I’m still very much in the thick of all the beautiful work God has given me— I will say that real grace, healing grace, is more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be.
So yes, it's been a hard year. I feel like so many of us could say that. But the last twelve months have also held a whole lot of good, because God still weaves common graces into our everyday lives. And I think the next twelve will be full of good, too. But because it’s the most wonderful time of the year to think about all the good, and because December says I can, that’s what I’m doing now. In no particular order of value, these were some of the good things…
Our new home. I love it so much I can’t stand it. Four bedrooms all on the same level, a working gas fireplace and a writing room. It’s nothing extravagant but far more than we deserve. I hope this space brings God glory for years to come.
The Open Door Sisterhood retreat. Three gorgeous fall days days nestled in the mountains at a lakeside home, listening to women dream and problem solve, filling one another’s hearts with all the spurring on we need to get back to our lives and back to our God-given work. Heaven on earth. It really was.
The Magic of Motherhood. It really happened. The Coffee + Crumbs team wrote a book! It won’t be out until April of next year, but isn’t it pretty (you have to click to see it)?! We poured our hearts in to this project, and I learned a lot about myself both as a mom and a writer along the way. We hope you love it and nod along with it, because we’re all in this motherhood thing together.
Five-year anniversary. The first time I left all three littles alone with grandparents was for our five-year anniversary getaway. But before you picture beaches and bikinis and coffee on the veranda, think more along the lines of a local hotel, sweat pants and milkshakes at Fatburger, sparkling cider in bed and a movie before 9:00pm. It was so Alex and me, and it was perfect. We're so basic.
Cannon saying “set-da!” I wrote about this moment a few months ago, but it still is one of the highlights of my year. He says it all the time now, because anything that involves movement delights him to no end. But I’ll never forget the work it took to pull those words out of him, and I’ll never forget what it felt like to hear him. To many more of those moments- let it be, Lord.
The books. The Holiness of God, None Like Him, She Reads Truth, The Life We Never Expected. Game changers, y’all. I read a lot of good ones this year, but these are keepers and recommenders and re-readers.
The hot chocolate recipe. OK. Lean in friends, because I have the yummiest easiest best most decadent treat for you. Pour 1 cup of milk in a pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Simmer until just barely bubbling. (I had some heavy cream in my refrigerator so I got really crazy and threw a splash in, but you don’t really need it—my diet simply doesn’t start until next year. Maybe the year after.) Carefully pour it in a mug and make sure you’re alone or your kids will steal it. Trust, y’all. Winter goodness in a cup.
A book proposal. Against all odds, and certainly against my ability to manufacture the margin in my life to make it happen, I started writing a book. The book proposal was sent out in the world for review and covered in prayer that if God wants it to land somewhere, it will. But if I know anything it is this: God doesn’t need my words; His will more than suffice. But if I know a second thing it is this: obedience and hard work feel good and right just because they are good and right; the process is good and right. The end result? Well, I always say I write words like I would blow dandelions to the wind: go where you will, words… where God wills.
Jesus. He’s always the best thing. My hope in him has never been more sure. My longing to know him more has never been stronger. He is the one who turned this year into something good.
As I look toward the last few weeks of the year, I am more grateful than ever for so many things— for my marriage and my precious little ones, for my amazing church and irreplaceable friends, and those of you who keep coming back to this space and keep telling me these words are worth toiling over, you’re near the top of the list, too. I hope you know that. This is all for Jesus. If it ever becomes about anything else, I trust you’ll tell me to put my eyes back on eternity, ok?
Let’s walk out this life keeping closest to the one who is able to keep us from stumbling, and let’s savor and practice gratitude for all the good. It’s practice for heaven, when all will be good. No, when all will be perfect.