Have you ever pulled wrapping paper off a box and got incredibly excited only to realize the box was solely for packaging purposes, that the item held within was not the one reflected on the box?
I’ve done that. It’s embarrassing.
Generally I still absolutely love the gift, but the situation makes me feel the necessity to overly emphasize my gratitude, as if I need to convince the giver that even though it wasn’t what I thought it was, it is still something I love.
You know. Something kinda like this year in reflection.
2016 held some things we would have preferred not to face, but the experiences have grown us individually and stronger together as a family. All in all, it was a year we’re overly grateful our Giver gave to us.
Gavin turned 7 in July. He had his very first season of baseball last spring, and what an experience it was! His team was undefeated!!! Quite the start! Gavin took his position as catcher very seriously, not wanting the umpire to help him out in the least bit when throwing the ball back to the coach/pitcher. He may have found his niche, making the Dad so happy that Gavin shares his love of baseball. He played goalie in soccer and has now started his first year of basketball. Gavin is rocking it out in 1st grade, recently receiving Tiger Cub of the Month for December. While we wouldn’t consider him super social, his teacher tells us he demonstrates leadership qualities in the classroom and was just recognized for the life principle gentleness. Like all the rest of us, he’s making his way, doing a fine job.
Caden moved out of the elementary school to middle school this year. All four kiddos are at different locations now, never to be back on the same campus again. Let the Mom shed a tear here.😢 Caden is in 4th grade with a rotating schedule, changing classes every hour, but his homeroom teacher is one of our best, dearest friends, having taught three of four kids so far. What a blessing! For Caden’s 10th birthday he wanted his room redecorated in a beach, surf theme. He has drums, a microphone, a guitar and a ukulele he tinkers around with here and there. We have a hunch that he’s got a music bug, but at this season he keeps busy with baseball, soccer and basketball. He is still the most laid-back, easy-going kid ever. Caden is very likable, even getting elected as class representative. He’s quite the guy.
Jaron is in….wait for it….(can you hear the dun dun dunnn?)…..JUNIOR HIGH! We may have some negative opinions having been through this with child one, but Jaron seems to be handling the environment well at the time. 7th grade so far is good. He was able to join youth group starting in the summer and is on the student leadership team. Honestly it’s hard to wrap this kid up in one paragraph. He wants to be involved in everything and is starting to realize the challenge to be fully committed and effective in so many different areas. He’s playing soccer on a rec team, he ran cross country for the school, is playing school basketball and plays trumpet in band. I pray the Lord allows him many opportunities to soak up all he pursues in life. Jaron is the example of “making the most of our days,” and that translates to Mom and Dad trying to catch our breath in between it all!
Brooklyn has put her best foot forward this year, finishing her first semester of 10th grade with an A in every class! She’s getting closer to becoming an independent driver having obtained her permit back in September. It was one of our highlights this year and we shared about it in The Other Side of Failing. Her passion is her horse, Gray Boy and she continues with improvements in making his house snazzy. She is enjoying having Jaron in youth group with her and serving on the student leadership together. We’re so proud of her growth, maturity and her vision for her future. It’s as if that future is speaking those words from playing tag, “ready or not, here I come.” And she is getting ready!
Brandon had an unexpected job change this year. We wrote about the experience in Living in a Layoff. We’ve always known that being an engineer in oil & gas in Oklahoma comes with a dose of unpredictability, but we never anticipated a layoff. Needless to say it was a big opportunity for our own growth. During the three months out of work he obtained his project management professional certification and is now working as a project manager for Rose Rock, and gets to work from home on Fridays! His office is right across the street from the hospital where I work.
The location is quite convenient and now Brandon and I carpool in together on the days I work. I’m still enjoying my NICU nurse gig at Saint Francis working a shift a week. Although I’m not there full time I’m quite passionate about my NICU babies. In April I obtained my RNC, a national certification in NICU nursing. In my time away from the hospital, I’m the official schedule coordinator for the family. I do my best but could definitely use more improvement. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten a kid. Yet. 😉 I continue serving events, conferences, schools, businesses, banquets and churches through inspirational motivational speaking when given the opportunity. However, the main task is the book project I’m working on, writing a personal memoir about persevering through life’s painful places. Our prayer is that it will be powerfully effective for those who need it in a time they need it most.
We’ve had some beautiful gifts in 2016. There was something special inside each package. Some were wrapped up in obvious goodness. Like our family’s mission trip with Brooklyn and Jaron to El Salvador with our church in June. Or our family vacation in October returning to see Mickey on Oahu. But even the challenging, unpleasant, unpredictable, unsure moments of the year held something special within them for us. And we have an expectation 2017 will hold the same.
It has been a joy sharing our moments with you through the year here on this blog. We can’t thank you enough for being a part of our online family. We pray the Lord continues using the posts to bring encouragement, inspiration, strength and joy to you as He continually provides to me in writing them.
Merry Christmas to you and yours! May you feel God’s presence and know His faithfulness today, in the New Year and every day thereafter, no matter what the package may look like!
Matthew 7:11NLT So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.
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