Every year on the blog I love to do an end of the year wrap-up for all of you! I know I share our lives as the year passes, but it’s always fun to look back on the year as a whole & reflect on all that happened.
As usual, it was a jam packed one!
The transition from a family of three to a family of seven was no small feat! I went from being a Mom of 2 small children (6 & 4) to a bonus Mom of 3 teens (Almost 15, 12 & 11) & it was quite the change. Between the friends, the events, the sports, and the appointments-we worked hard to find our family rhythm. We have our 3 older kids every other week-so we find our life is a mixture of super busy weeks followed by a week that’s not as hectic. Then we recover a bit and head back to the busy weeks again. It’s our new normal.
This last September we celebrated our one-year “fam-a-versary” as we like to call it. As important as our anniversary was to celebrate it was just important, for my husband and I, to celebrate the merging of our two beautiful families-as one. We talked that night about all the things we loved about each other & how far we’ve come in the last year. It was an incredibly special night. As we looked back, I was filled with pride at how hard we all worked at becoming one & how time & time again-love prevailed.
This family is my greatest gift.
Milo & Ellis:
Milo turned 6 this year. He started first grade. Lost two teeth. Played sports all year. And kept getting love notes from girls in his class. Seriously-what’s up with these aggressive female tactics??? Ha! Can’t say I loved it-but there’s worse things in life, I suppose. Milo has absolutely loved having 3 older siblings & the weeks they’re all together is a non-stop party. I love seeing him surrounded by even more love.
Ellis turned 4 this year & started her second year of school. She’s still struggled with lots of colds off & on-thanks to all the germs she encounters at school. But we’ve been able to keep a better handle on it, I feel. I wrote earlier about her hospitalization in May. That was, by far, the worst part of our year. But she’s a tough little girl & has rebounded beautifully. She continues therapy, both at school & out of school. Really-Ellis probably warrants an update post all of her own. I promise to do that soon. Mostly, you just need to know that she’s well & as sassy as ever. We love our baby sis.
My husband got his dream job this year. Incredible! When we were dating one night we sat & talked about the deepest dreams of his heart. He talked about this very thing: wanting to work at a non-profit that is a safe space for inner-city kids. At that point in time he was working jobs just for income-& this dream seemed so far in the distance. Imagine our surprise when this opportunity, to be a Site-Director, fell in his lap last April. We absolutely couldn’t believe it. He’s been over the moon excited about work every day & as his wife there’s nothing that makes my heart happier. In the past, I have also worked with inner-city kids myself. So his dreams have intersected with so many desires of my heart as well. The biggest dream of our family being around diversity in all forms (not common in Oklahoma!) & getting to live out a mission bigger than ourselves.
Nearly every month you will find us at one of their outreach events. We’ve gotten to see kids thrive in their after school programs, we’ve gotten to build relationships with some amazing people, we’ve gotten to see kids get free back packs & school supplies, families receive free groceries/meals, & we’ve helped get gifts to families who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas. We even teamed up together to do Choose Joy Project this year! Our children are learning & growing so much in their giving hearts & in being around people of all walks of life. It blows me away all that we get to be a part of at City Center & it has become a major part of our lives.
Throughout this year I’ve continued my job as a real-estate photographer. I’ve loved the creative aspect of my job & never dread going to work. I love, love, love not being behind a desk & I love all of the beautiful homes I get to be inside. It gives me a flexible schedule where I get to be Mom for everything my kids need & it truly is a dream job in every way.
When not shooting houses I am still doing other things that cause my heart to come to life. Recently, that has been speaking. And I was pretty shocked at the places I ended up this year. Namely, I spoke at a number of medical conferences, sharing our story with doctors, nurses, therapists & hundreds of other medical professionals. I have this wild dream to share our journey at a major hospital in all 50 states. It’s a powerful story to share & I would love to do it more!
(For booking information email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
All of these medical interactions have lead to my being asked to be on a committee at the same Children’s Hospital where Ellis was sick. It’s an unbelievable honor to be a part of this committee, to advocate for families in life-changing situations, & help in the creation of hospital policies for those in the very situations we experienced. It’s all Doctors, & Nurses on this committee-and then...me.
Who... this girl? Yes. I’ve felt all along our story was meant to open eyes & affect change & it’s been incredible to see that happening in crazy, amazing ways.
People are always asking about my writing. I try to blog once a month, but have missed some here or there this year. I’ve started (& then stopped) writing a book-just kind of waiting to figure out what direction I want it to take, or if I even want to do it at all.
I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing. I want to feel like I have something worthwhile to say. I’ve lived a lot of life & I have a wealth of knowledge from those experiences. It’s not a matter of not having enough material-it’s actually a matter of having TOO much material & not knowing the best next move. I plan to hopefully figure that out in the New Year.
In the world of writing...things change. It’s an odd career. People don’t read books as much anymore. People don’t pass around blogs like they used too. It’s a tough climate for a writer, if I’m being honest.
Instead of stressing about it all, I took a year off, basically. I wanted my only focus to be my family. Every time I’d try to dive back in to writing-I just knew my heart wasn’t ready. But I’m starting to feel that stirring, the itch again. The giant-what’s next? I plan on figuring out the answer to that question in this next year.
2018 was good to us. It wasn’t without its challenges. It brought on lots of those. But we kept going, we kept getting stronger & that’s so beautiful to me. For 2019-I am so hopeful for what’s ahead. And after all the life of the last 9 years, hopeful feels good. Hopeful feels really dang good.
Thank you for that, 2018. Thank you.