The year comes to an end, and in some ways, I feel 2015 is closing as 2014 did. We end again with loss and grief and hope deferred.
My family was discussing this recently—and noting that these last four years have been some of our hardest, maybe ever. My parents lost parents—and I have no more blood grandparents (thank God for two grandmothers by marriage or a whole generation would be gone completely).
We’ve been through breast cancer and heart surgery at the end of a year of chemo and radiation. We’ve watched hair fall out and heads shaved while hearing ‘negative’ 14 times from the fertility office. My parents have six grandbabies in Heaven. Six. Who can endure four years of that?
But as I sit here this morning, when my heart could be sick from hope deferred, I am reminded of the choice before me: I choose joy and peace and gratitude. I choose to be content and to see the blessings.
We’ve faced a lot as a family since 2011.
But we’ve conquered a lot, too. And we’ve laughed a lot. And we’ve witnessed all the good.
Two weddings and a precious baby boy.
New houses, new jobs.
Dreams come true, and new dreams to come.
A cancer-free report again, and again, and again.
At the end of 2015, we still have each other: wonderful parents, in-laws, and siblings; blessed marriages, houses, and cars; and an 18-month-old, who is our hope and joy and light in the midst of what sometimes feel dark and painful.
On January 1, 2015, Howell and I made the decision to do nothing this year but live life. No more fertility treatments. No more adoption classes. Nothing.
Because after four tough years, we needed 12 months of each other.
And I’m thankful on December 31, 2015 for the memories we made.
Three ski trips, a half-a-dozen lake trips, eight days in San Diego, weekends away—in Dallas, in Santa Fe, in any place that was within six driving hours and had a king-sized bed.
We’ve logged thousands of miles in the car this year—just us or with our fur-babies—and with every click forward on the odometer, the grief in our hearts is wiped away.
When Brad Paisley’s voice fills the cab of Howell’s truck with questions of how the love for his spouse could be more today than way back then, I smile because I feel it too.
I wish at the close of this year, I could announce a pregnancy with something clever like a third stocking, an unopened present, or a new year’s surprise, but while I still carry my dreams, I keep them securely placed in my Father’s chest, and every time I want to take a quick peek, he reminds me that I can trust His heart.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that my Father loves me more than I can comprehend. It’s something fierce and powerful, and it cannot be undone.
He can’t un-love me; neither can He love me more.
His love is immeasurable and complete.
When I doubt His plans for me, I doubt how great His love is.
When I feel hopeless, I’ve misplaced His great love, trading it for my plans, which pale in comparison.
His love is no longer cliché to me. It’s my security and my peace, my comfort and my hope.
When I believe His love is enough, I know I’m enough.
And when I’m less concerned with whether I’m enough, I can see others who need to know they are enough too.
I can tell that struggling college student, I know what it’s like—and you can overcome. This too shall pass.
I can tell my struggling mom-friend, I see you, and I’m sorry for the hard days. They are real, and it’s okay to feel it.
When I believe how much He loves me, I can trust His heart. And I am set free.
Free to be me. Free to run in my lane and live in my margin.
I don’t have to compare or contrast.
I can empathize from my lane without bitterness or jealousy. I can be thankful and grateful in my lane without losing compassion for those in another lane.
The desire to be a mom is no less today than last year, but an amazing thing happened over these last 12 months: I learned life in my lane is pretty great too.
I can play with my nephew—who has my heart and my love in a way I’ve never known. I can take the pictures and sing the silly songs and treasure those sweet moments of hugs and snuggles.
But I can also sleep 9 (ish :)) hours without the interruptions—the runny nose and fever, the 2 a.m. throw up. I can take trips when I want to or randomly plan a date night in Amarillo or drop everything to see a movie and eat popcorn for dinner.
Don’t get me wrong—I still long for the day when my margin is expanded and a new mom-column is added, but this lane has its own perks. And I can see them when I’m not trying to run in someone else’s lane.
I’ve also learned this year that it’s okay to feel all the feels, as my good friend Jen Hatmaker would say. And it’s okay to be vulnerable.
When I’m hurting, it’s okay to tell someone. Text those friends I trust the most. Ask for prayers. Let someone else speak truth when I cannot.
It’s okay to ask for help. This is sometimes the most courageous thing I can do—and it’s worth it every time.
This year—more than any other—I’ve not only been okay with me, I’ve been okay with letting others see the real me. (She’s pretty awesome.)
And finally, I’ve learned that while emotions lie, His word never does. I can tuck His word deep into my heart, and it stands. Forever. Eternally true.
Not that this post has to be advicey, but if there’s advice to be offered, it’s this:
Pain and suffering is inevitable in this life; even Jesus said so. But joy is our choice, and it’s worth it.
Hope deferred happens—for whatever reason—to everyone, but His love is never deferred. It is ever-present to comfort and secure.
Comparison is a trap (don’t we all know it?), but life is great when you live with gratitude in your own lane.
The end of 2015 really has been hard, but I feel like the Lord has asked me not to throw away all of 2015 because of that.
I believe 2016 is going to be a great year. This year we will see prayers answered and dreams accomplished. God is going to pour out blessing on our family—so much that we cannot contain it. I can’t wait to see how He chooses to unfold these gifts before us. Already, today, my cup runs over.