I just finished editing the last Global Grit of 2022 for FCA’s team. This month’s column was a reflective piece about if you’re sad or glad to see the end of the year, and what story you want to tell next year. I’ve edited this monthly column for several years now, and this one really made me stop and think.
Honestly, I hope I can tell a different story in 2023.
I fall into the majority of people who say I’m glad to see 2022 get behind me. But, I also want to count my blessings. This has been the hardest year of my life. But, it’s another year of life, and I don’t take that for granted. I don’t do my cancer survivorship justice if I don’t appreciate every day I get to live.
Next Year: Christmas Cards?
A big dream for next year is to mail out Christmas cards. I’d love to pepper the mailboxes of our family and friends with our beautiful family photos. For the past few years, I’ve blamed not sending holiday cards on being a foster mom. While some foster families find creative ways to send out cards, we’ve chosen to hold off posting or sending out cards with Little Man’s picture on them. It’s not quite time for that.
But the truth is: I’ve not sent Christmas cards for several years, even before the little dude arrived. But, I’m inspired by the cards we got this year. Hopefully 2023 will be our year. If you want to be on our list, send me a note.
Year in Review
It’s tough being a blogger and speaker, because my attempts to find the words to explain this past year are both inadequate and incomplete. Once again, part of this is being a foster mom. This gig requires us to keep details confidential. As someone who shares my story with groups and who published a memoir a few years ago, putting the intimate details of my life on other peoples’ shelves, it’s been hard and weird to stay so quiet about adding another kiddo to our household.
I want to tell you all about Little Man, who is now 17 months old. I want to explain how and why it’s been such a hard year. What I can tell you is that foster care is one of the hardest callings of my life, but it’s also incredible.
I now encourage people who are feeling the nudge to pursue foster care to do it (they need homes!), but I also caution people to not jump into fostering unless they’re sure they’ve been called to it. It’s not for the faint of heart.
As for our foster baby, he’s just the cutest. He’s got around 15 words now, with his favorites being “moon” and “puppy.” He loves candles, and he will find the candle in every room and start blowing at it. It’s just the best.
Mae is a great Sissy, or as Little Man says, “Sis.” Watching these two siblings bond has been an awesome experience. They’re 11 years apart, but we honestly enjoy the gap. Obviously, Mae can help get him milk and watch him for me when I need to shower. We’re only chasing one toddler, which is helpful for us old millennials. But even more, we spot moments where Mae reflects on how she’s going to stand up for her brother when he’s her age, or what she wants to teach him as he gets older. It’s neat.
While foster care wasn’t new for us this year, 2022 did bring some new beginnings. Obviously we had a lot of baby’s firsts, like walking, talking and eating solid foods. Mae entered the Wild Wild West of middle school. It’s been a good change for her. She’s made a lot of new friends and she’s enjoying playing cello in orchestra. We’re thankful she's back in school, no virtual schooling. I’ve learned to not take in-person school for granted.
This past year we also got more settled into our new house, and we enjoyed lots of time playing in the backyard, getting to know our neighbors and watching movies on our couch. A few short getaways helped add some variety to our lives and Mae loved hitting the beach. We caught every Marvel movie and series, and we watched the entire Stranger Things series. Mae’s into special effects makeup, and some of her looks are spooky yet incredible. Oh, and Little Miss got braces!
Me and Mikey
I loved getting to travel on a few work trips again this year, one for FCA and a few for Fight CRC. Coming home to my family was just the best. Mikey and I celebrated 17 years married, and he’s still rocking it at Digital Division, working from home. We enjoy taking our lunch breaks together around the kitchen table. We also have enjoyed hosting people who’ve come by to hang out and stay with us. I baked a lot, and Mikey kept dabbling in music.
I’m generally feeling well, and praise the Lord I’m cancer free. Proctitis and a condition called LARS are what I battle each day, which means I closely watch what I eat and my stress level, and it changes by the day. But, it beats fighting cancer.
My routine still involves a visit to the survivorship clinic once a year, an annual colonoscopy, and a yearly visit to my OBGYN and skin doctor. Compared to the medical carousel I once rode, this feels like a walk in the park.
Amidst the hard stuff, the everyday, routine stuff kept us going. The dependability of the sunset and the baby waking up at 7:30. Leaving for the bus stop at 7:45 and pouring hot, fresh coffee. The routine of a work day and school day. The predictability of a garden growing in spring. Coffee with my dad on Tuesday mornings, and Home Church on Tuesday nights. Friday night pizza and movies. Sunday church on the TV and Chiefs. These rhythms brought us order when everything else felt so chaotic. It was such a gift this year.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I always choose One Word for the upcoming year. I’ve done this for over a decade. I’m an enneagram 1w2, so I enjoy making resolutions, setting goals and that kind of thing. But choosing One Word is my absolute favorite New Years tradition. My word guides my entire year.
Last year, JOY was my word for 2022, with the familiar verses on joy from James 1:2-4 guiding me. This time last year, I braced myself for the year ahead, knowing it would likely be tough (although it was tougher than I ever imagined). To say we faced trials of many kinds this year is an understatement.
But, as summer turned to fall, I began to accept the hardships of the year, and something hit me: The second half of the verses that talk about perseverance and maturity. Trials test our faith, which leads to perseverance, which leads to completion and maturity. This cycle is the definition of joy.
So in that case, there is no better word to describe 2022 for me other than joy. No, I was not happy, singing, and praising God because things went my way. In truth: I was upset, anxious and scared for most of the year. There are many unanswered prayers I’m bringing into 2023. It's been so hard.
But, my world is clearer and crisper now. I have new wisdom and energy to write (which is why I’m firing back up my Monday Morning devotionals). The trials we have faced in 2022 forced us to persevere. And today, I can look back over the past 365 days and see that this perseverance has matured me.
I'm grateful. I'm at peace. This is joy.
And, if I'm being honest... I realllly hope we get to send out some Christmas cards in 2023.