December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

This is always my favorite post to write but 2017 will go down in history as "the year of hard things."

I remember taking our little house down to the studs and putting it back together again. I SERIOUSLY do. not. know. how we survived that season. Mike had just been handed a hot mess of a hotel site at work. He was working overnights + day shifts. I was doing my regular VA work and homeschooling and also working overnights for a postpartum family. We worked at the house several days each week and weekend. When we weren't at the house, I was managing a million other logistics to select, order, and arrange delivery or pick up of needed items. It was nonstop for 2 months. It was unquestionably exhausting. Just thinking about it makes me tired. We were clearly insane and high on the excitement of our new journey. Despite the crazy schedule, I have nothing but fond memories of the process. I loved every minute of our remodel. We, hands down, had THE best contractor on the planet and that made all the difference in the world.

I remember living with Grandma and D-Dad and how gracious they were to accommodate us. I remember dinners around the table and great conversations where I learned even more new stories about them.

I remember our moving weekend. Our crew had us settled and ready to sleep here on day 2 and then built us an amazing fire pit like icing on the cake. Our sweet neighbors even fed our crew and I remember the sheer delight of knowing how blessed we were.

I remember mom coming to help me with the decor. We shopped until we literally dropped but we decorated this entire house in one weekend and it made me love our little home that much more! The very first thing Mike and I hung on the wall was my marquee lights HOME sign. It is still one of my most prized possessions.

I remember going to see a man about some chickens and then transporting 9 of them in the back of my SUV from Birmingham to Nashville. It was S T I N K Y but we were so happy to start chicken farming! We've lost a few and added a few along the way but chicken wrangling turned out to be much easier than I expected. Plus, farm fresh eggs are so, so good!

Easter was our first family gathering at the BFF and I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment. After wishing and hoping for property for years, it felt so good to be home.

I remember trying to go to the lake. It somehow managed to rain almost every Saturday this spring and summer. We did sneak out one evening for a little cruise around at sunset and dinner with friends that I'll never forget. I'll also remember the day we literally tried all day to get on the water. There were constant roadblocks to the point that it became comical and we finally gave up.

I remember many an afternoon on the lawnmower. Grass cutting season went on and on and on. We went from spending about 30 minutes cutting grass at our old house to 3 days at the BFF. We have so much that we cut it in sections. But I listened to a lot of good books on that lawnmower and one in particular that rocked my whole world (thank you, Jen Hatmaker)!

I remember our road trip with dad and visiting Plant City, FL where we lived when I was in the 5th - 6th grade. A lot had changed, yet so much was still the same. We also got to see our family friend, Sue. I adored her as a girl and Skylar was just as smitten. I remember going to Animal Kingdom with my girl and conquering so much! We met a ton of characters and rode everything. The street performers and dancers were definitely a highlight this trip. Although, Lion King and the Safari will always be my favorites.

I remember Easton dying. He was 13. After moving here, he had really perked up and loved to ride the lawnmower with me. I thought for sure we had at least 2 more years with him but it ended so suddenly. I am thankful that we could bury him at the BFF. Skylar made a large cross out of scrap wood and metal that was perfect for his grave. We picked out a nice, bright spot by a tree that reminds us of how he loved to lay in the sun.

I remember Skylar playing softball. Over the years we have let her try all of the sports/activities she desired but this one. I played ball from Sweetie League through High School so I was done spending my Saturdays at the ballpark. Wouldn't you know it? Softball is the sport she loves! Oh the things I do for this kid.

I remember our Summer Solstice Party. We had over 70 people come celebrate with us. Mike and his Dad cooked a whole hog. I was so tickled to be able to share our home and property with our family, friends, and neighbors. It was the summer solstice party that I have always dreamed of.

I remember Skylar getting her expander and talking with an accent for the next 3 days to cover up her lisp. It was great, and she was really good too! When she got braces, she looked instantly older. I'm still not a fan of this growing up business almost 11 years later.

I remember my doula babies. I had one sweet girl who was in the biggest hurry ever and even took us for a little ambulance ride. Then a precious boy took his time arriving but gave me an awesome new respect for the power and determination of a mother. I was also finally able to witness a birth at Nashville's birthing center. Now that I'm only taking repeat clients, close friends, and select new clients, it makes each birth that much sweeter.

I remember our car accident. I still dream about it. I felt surprisingly calm while it was happening even though I thought we would never stop flipping. Strangely enough, Skylar and I were talking calmly the entire time it happened. I am still amazed that she was unharmed and I had minimal injuries. People die from accidents like ours. I remember my dear friend coming to pick glass out of my hair at midnight, Grandma coming to do laundry and drive me to appointments, and my bestie coming to wash my hair. Our village served us well. I remember thinking I would bounce back in a week yet here I am still in physical therapy almost 6 months later. Yet the drunk driver got a tiny fine and a few days in jail. Regardless, I'm still in awe of God's protection and thankful that He's given me more to do on Earth.

I remember our Solar Eclipse Party. I still can't believe that our address was in the complete path of totality for such a rare event. We had over 60 moms, dads, and kids join us. The 2 minutes of total eclipse was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced in my life. We all cheered and yelled and kids ran around with glow sticks. Being around so many other excited participants made it even more special!

I remember car shopping. Oh lawsy. What an ordeal. We had 3 cars literally sold right out from under us. It became a running joke about how hot the used car market is. I'm a sucker for American made SUVs but, in the end, I ended up with a Toyota Sequoia that I love.

I remember celebrating our 12th anniversary. I feel like it's taken us this long to finally hit the sweet spot but it feels really good.

I remember getting Onyx. Our last experience with a puppy was horrible. I was expecting the same this time around but I was smitten with her from the start. She has the sweetest personality. Skylar made the best video to welcome Onyx to our family. I was so proud of her hard work. I'm still amazed at how easily Onyx has blended into our family and how adored she is by all of us. We almost ended up with a different puppy but I'm so thankful that it worked out for us to get Onyx. She has been beyond perfect for us in so many ways. The best part is when she brings me treasures out of the woods.

I remember our annual trip to the beach with mom. This year we had Hurricane Irma to deal with but it ended up working out okay. One of my favorite pictures from this year is Skylar shell hunting on the beach.

I remember our fall family getaway to Louisville. The Ark Encounter was truly mind-blowing! Downtown Cincinnati was also a highlight but I'll never forget seeing my girl ride roller coaster after roller coaster at Holiday World. She rode every single one multiple times!

I remember Skylar learning to drive the Bobcat. When we had the concrete poured for the garage they left the Bobcat key and Mike gave Skylar a quick lesson. She drove that thing all over the place and even spread 2 piles of mulch in the garden. Like a boss!

I remember being hurt so deeply by a friend in a way I never expected and never saw coming. Losing this relationship felt like losing a family member. It nearly crushed me. There are days that I still mourn over it. Sometimes it feels like I'm going through the stages of grief all over again. But, as promised, God works all things together for good. I can already see how this situation has helped to stretch and grow me in ways that would not have happened otherwise. Some areas of my life had gotten really comfortable and this gave me a push outside my comfort zone that I needed. It doesn't make it hurt any less but seeing the purpose gives me hope for the future.

I remember drinking the Wilson County kool-aid, so to speak. For starters, I never thought we would live near Providence, much less Wilson County. The more we are here the more I'm learning to love it. It also helps that the area is continuing to grow and more businesses are moving "out here." We visited the fair, went to the Dancing Christmas Lights, and the Christmas Parade. I even signed Skylar up for 4H. I'm slowly but surely moving all of my business out this way.

I remember visiting church after church after church. Oh my. We were so weary from visiting, trying to connect, and find a good fit. It's really hard being the new person at church and we couldn't quite find somewhere that had all of the big things on our list. At one point we were dropping Skylar off at one church and then going to our car to live stream the service from a different church. I refused to settle and gave it one more shot. We found New Tribe Church and are so happy there. I'll never forget the night that God connected all the dots of the last year and showed me that this place had everything I had been looking for. Instantaneously, I knew we had found our new church home and we've been all in ever since.

I remember Skylar having the flu right before Christmas. In fact, we were all very sick. It was brutal. I had all these grand plans for creating traditions our first year in our new home but we just went into survival mode instead. LOL! We even missed Christmas with Mike's family. But I'll never forget seeing the fullest, brightest, double rainbow on Christmas Eve. We even saw where it went into the ground. Amazing memory!

I remember being D O N E with 2017. Between the remodel, rollover accident, church searching, losing my confidant, and having all of us so sick at Christmas, I was 100% convinced that 2017 was trying to kill me. Literally. I felt crushed from all sides - physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially.

This year was such a conundrum. 2017 pushed me WAY outside my comfort zone over and over and over again. Bless! It truly was the year of hard things. But, for as much as it took from me, it also gave me so much more. I'm rather excited to see how the growth of this year moves us into 2018 and beyond.

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