As I sat down early yesterday morning, the last day of 2016, to reflect upon the year one word stuck out to me, refining. It was a resetting, refocusing, refining year for me and my marriage and my family. This was already true by the very beginning of 2016, God had called me to lay down my beloved ministry at our church three months earlier in November in order to focus on my family during Luke’s surgery and recovery and most likely longer. I wasn’t happy about this; I was weepy and downright angry.
Every once in a while though I’d hear a still, small whisper say, I have something different for you, trust me… I’d shut that down quickly. I don’t want anything different, I’d snap back. I loved my work. I needed my work. Maybe a little bit too much, maybe that was the point. God slowly and gently revealed to me the sense of identity I got from ministry, the pride that had crept in, and my tendency to put it in front of my family, friends and even my own relationship with Him. I slowly started to understand why He chose to take it away, at least for a time and wondered if He really did have something different for me.
Our anniversary is the third of January. Mark and I started the year by celebrating seven years of marriage at Justin Winery in Paso Robles, CA. I was sick but it was a beautiful setting so I sat around and read about writing. I’d always been interested in writing and enjoyed it but lately I’d found myself devouring one book after another about writing. I couldn’t get enough. When we went to Mammoth the following month I bought an online course about how to start a blog on a snowy day and jammed through all six weekly sessions of it instead of going skiing.
By May my life had slowed down considerably but Mark’s was still going at mach 5. He was working so much that friends were taking me aside asking me why. Were we in tens of hundreds of dollars in debt they didn’t know about? I didn’t have an answer for them. I didn’t know either. One night we were both reading on opposite ends of the couch when I put my book down in my lap and asked, “Are you a workaholic?” After thinking for a bit he answered, “Probably.”
One evening in Cabo, my face busted up from a surfing accident, Mark still a bundle of stress even on vacation, we realized life wasn’t working at the pace we were living it. Something needed to change. Mark realized he was working too much and he joined me in the decision to slow down, commit to less and focus more time and energy to our family. He was quick to let me know that the hospital schedule was set through the summer however and that it would be worse than we’d ever seen, including residency. We held on with both hands and dredged through it, knowing there was an end in sight.
I started this blog in June and was freelance writing by August. Ava stated kindergarten at the end of that month, giving our family a welcomed schedule and routine. Mark’s work schedule started to slow down at his request in September. I attended the Belong Tour in Denver where I heard from some of my favorite writers and speakers and honed in on my purpose: writing, speaking, leading woman towards Christ. I started Luke in preschool two mornings a week so I could focus on learning the trades of writing and speaking.
In October I created a workshop, So Long Survival: Going From Barely Surviving to Living With Purpose and presented it to 40 moms. I loved it and I can’t wait to do it again! I enjoyed another year of leading my Spark group. The fourteen women in our group have become a huge part of my life, it seems like we’ve been meeting for about 10 years now, not a measly 18 months. It’s a joy to lead them.
While it was a refining and exiting year for our little family, it was a rough, confusing and heavy year for some of our closest friends and family and therefore us since loved ones don’t suffer alone. We’re praying for peace and health and hope and restoration for 2017.
Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!