Melanie here. With more and more friends leaving Facebook for a reasons ranging from personal to political and every nuance in between, we wanted to get a jump on staying connected outside of social media. As a teenager, I was a voracious writer on my 89 Xanga sites (slight exaggeration, but I did have a few different ones) and it feels a little like old times to be back to blogging. Facebook Notes saw me write occasionally, and a few friends have been privy to regular lengthy emails and messages over the years, but I'm thinking it's time to revisit the blogging world and build a way to stay connected with friends around the world, whether they're on Facebook or not.
So here we are.
It's 2021 and the time when I sit down and reflect and plan and goal set.
Who am I kidding? I do this regularly, as I'm a big picture person and struggle badly when I feel like I'm in limbo. Having something bigger than myself that I'm working towards or keeping my mind on is life-giving to me, and regular check-ins to make sure I'm on track and not getting distracted and continuing to prioritize the things that are important to myself and to my family is crucial for my sanity and mental/emotional well-being.
That said, I feel like I need to give a nod to 2020. At the end of 2019, a friend made me sit down and pick a word to stamp onto a necklace. I've loosely thought of keywords before for a year, but being succinct isn't really my style, so I've never kept to it or given it any weight. This time, I had the pressure from a few friends who were there with me and continued to check in with me about my word throughout the year.
The year? 2020.
The word? "Faith."
Sometime this fall, I was feeling down on myself for not doing what I wanted to with "faith" as a focus for 2020. I mentioned I'm a goals and vision girl, right? Well, 2020 didn't have the intensity of focus on faith that I wanted, and I was mentally tearing myself down for all the ways I felt like I failed myself in not doing better.
And then I stopped.
Because 2020. And life. And faith. And WHOA 2020.
For those who don't know, we had a baby in April of 2020. The pregnancy leading up to it was my smoothest in most ways, and I remember looking at Andrew one day and commenting, "I wonder if what I'm feeling are all the 'regular' pregnancy aches and discomforts compared to my previous ones." However, this pregnancy ended in pre-eclampsia (fourth time's the charm?), placental abruption, hemorrhaging, a migraine with high pain levels and vision auras that lasted over two and a half months with no relief, multiple neurological appointments trying to pinpoint medications and causes and management, anemia, and more, all while caring for a newborn.
I've never been so thankful in my life for a pandemic that moved Andrew from working away from home to working in our home day after day. I truly don't know how we would have made it through this year without a second adult in the home 24/7 to help shore up the gaps I was leaving, especially without the same kind of outside support we would have had without pandemic concerns and regulations.
We planned to buy a house in 2020-- one that I have loved for years-- but the timing and answer ended up being a no-go. After dreaming and planning, I was pretty disappointed, but trusted that God had something better for our family elsewhere. As I write this, we're still looking, but we're in a better position than ever to buy, and I'm excited for the possibilities. Did I mention we're a family of eight in 1100 sq feet and with a yard the size of a thimble? (Okay, slightly bigger, but not by much.) It's been a growing process for me as I've learned and chosen contentment in a home that was not my ideal, and as our season is wrapping up here I find that there will be things I genuinely will miss from our cozy home, but I'm also over the moon excited at the possibility of having a home that is big enough to open up to others and offer better hospitality to, and a yard that maybe, maybe, just maybe, has the climbing tree my kids have been begging for daily for more than five years.
So this fall, when I was down on myself and stopped my inward tirade and really *thought* about this year, it struck me how fitting the word "faith" as a focus actually was. From uncertainties about Covid to travel plans called off to Andrew's job changing and me needing to adjust my goals with my job due to health issues and changes within our family, to putting on hold our dreams of buying a house to the daily need to decide to thrive where we're at, in all the uncertainty of those days, "faith" was the overwhelming focus of 2020 for me. Choosing to wait and look forward to what we don't have but hope for. Choosing to dwell in the uncertainty of "now" without wishing it away or whiling away time until we are where we want to be. 2020 wasn't an easy year, but it was definitely a year of faith.
As we go into 2021, faith is still a part, but this time my word of the year is "dream." Because it's time to dream, and my dreams are big, and I'm excited to be able to dream even in the hardships and rough times. What I'm dreaming about is for another post, but for now-- "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." And as C.S. Lewis encouraged, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream."
Dream with me.
Andrew and Melanie fell in love over late night snacks, dozing off in the middle of studying for exams, words, and a shared love for stories. We see stories everywhere: in the little day to day incidents and in the bigger sagas over days, months, and years of our time. We cherish the stories that root us and we rest in the Story that gives our lives meaning. We love seeing the threads of stories come together in gut-busting, belly-laugh-inducing, choke-on-your spit ways, and we love the gentle, quiet, easily missed stories that ultimately can play a bigger part in our lives than many other more obvious stories. We're young, we're old, we're growing, we're learning. We make a lot of mistakes, fall down a lot, struggle with life, sometimes sit in our sadness, but ultimately we pick ourselves back up again and keep on trekking. We're on a journey of parenthood now and have been for over ten years, learning and growing into it right along with our six children.