fostering a grateful spirit

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely." -Roald Dahl

Best and Worst Parts (2013 in review)

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First of all, sorry for my long hiatus. Life has been a little crazy, but I’ve missed my little blog. So if you’re still reading, thanks for your patience. It’s my goal to continue this blog on a much more regular basis again.

One of the things that I love about my marriage is that I feel like Drew and I are good at talking. We talk about tons of things. There are still conversations that are hard to have and that get put off longer than they should be, but every night as we lay in bed falling asleep, we ask each other our best and worst parts (meaning the best and worst part of our days). This has been really great for us, because it causes us to think about what makes us happy, as well as what makes the other happy, and what makes us feel bad, frustrated, or hurt. I also love that regularly our best parts have to do with snuggling. 🙂
So with that in mind, I thought I’d give you some of my best and worst parts of 2013. It may not be as exciting as People magazine’s lists, but do you really need another list that mentions Miley Cyrus (I promise, that will be my only reference to her…probably ever.)

Bests:

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Christmas. Partially because I am secretly five and love to get and give gifts (It is truly a struggle to hold on to any gift until Christmas because I love giving people things that will make them smile), but mostly because, this year especially, I needed the Advent season. I needed to be reminded that I was created for a world much more perfect than this one, and that the deep sorrow I feel about the broken things of this world is from God Himself, and that He promised to return.
Also, this year I had gifts that I was SUPER excited about for almost every person on my list, mostly because we decided to try to make our Christmas gifts count more this year, by giving experiences and buying gifts that support (or making donations to) causes that we and the people receiving the gifts love.
Some highlights (for me):
My dad loves to cook. It is his preferred way to care for the people he loves, and we all love to be cared for in that way because he makes delicious food. We were very excited to find a family in need who we were able to gift with a pantry stocking load of food as well as some fun Christmas gifts. As part of my dad’s Christmas gift, we will be having groceries delivered to their house several times throughout the year.
My mom is a talented photographer, and dreams of doing photography as a job, but hasn’t really had the chance to learn how to use things like photo editing software. We bought her some photography and editing lessons with our favorite photographer. So fun to be able to help dreams come true.
Other favorites: donations to Worldreader, Food For The Hungry, and Geeks Without Bounds (because we know and love a lot of geeks). 🙂
I also built Drew (with the needed help of my awesome Mama) the tent pictured above. We LOVE our new reading nook/tent/fort/portable biscuit. Most days since Christmas have included family snuggles in the fort, which is almost always my best part.

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Mexico. I LOVE to travel, so this year, Drew surprised me with a trip to Riviera Maya to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was a needed getaway, and five solid days of just us, no phones, lots and lots of sunshine, sand between our toes, cold tropical drinks, and laughter. My sweet hubby wasn’t even that frustrated that I ruined the surprise because I was begging to go to Bonnaroo to see Mumford and Glen Hansard.

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Handmade for Harlow. As with most things, Handmade for Harlow was born out of two very sad things. It had only been a few weeks since I found out about my miscarriage and sweet Harlow was (and is) still fighting her second battle with cancer, and I was desperate to find something to keep me busy and keep my mind off our baby. I made my first scarf one day while I was at my parents’ with Drew watching the Bears, and I was instantly hooked. I didn’t like how the first one turned out, so I adjusted till I loved it, and then I made a ton (22 in 2 days, but who is counting?). After my husband oh so sweetly asked me what I was going to do with ALL those scarves, I decided to start selling them to help raise money for the Page’s expenses (as if cancer doesn’t suck enough, it’s also unbelievably expensive!). Now, just 2.5 months after I started selling them, we’ve done 2 craft shows, opened an etsy shop, have scarves in a darling boutique, and have sold over 100 scarves and 2 blankets, raised over $500 for Harlow and her family, and found something to give me some purpose when I could not control the things I desperately wanted to control. Also, my sweet hubs has been CRAZY supportive, which has been such a blessing.

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Dream job. For several months this year, I got to spend my days creating beautiful floral arrangements with some very sweet and talented ladies. I didn’t know this was my dream job, but it was, and I’m thankful that I got the chance to do it because people believed in me, shared their knowledge and talent generously, and sacrificed to give me the opportunity. It also created some desperately needed down time in my schedule, something I haven’t had in at least a decade and probably longer. I didn’t know what was coming and how much I would need time to heal, but The Lord did, and He gave it to me.
I also took some ceramics classes. I am bad, but it was fun. Creative outlets feed my soul.

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Perhaps best of all, Drew and I have found new ways to love each other well and to continue to make our marriage better. We got a giving tree-pod to remind us to think of each other even when there is no “reason.” I got the idea from my friends at Today’s Letters who have been married longer than us and have found creative ways to work on their marriage. ( Also, just to be clear, by our friends I mostly mean I stalk her blog because I really want to be her friend.) We also have committed to be better about being unplugged when we’re together (mostly necessary because of my unhealthy addiction to Candy Crush) and to cook more together. And as I said before, he has been crazy supportive of all the changes and struggles this past year, and I know that most of my bests would not have been possible if he didn’t believe in me and every crazy idea that I have. We. Are. Blessed.

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Other bests:
Mumford with my hubs.
Laughing.
Hanging out with two of my favorite little people, Riley and Harlow.
Lots and lots of snuggles.

Worsts:

Most of the worst things have been mentioned because, and this is so important for me to remember, most of the best things came from crazy hard things.

By far the hardest thing for me this year was losing our sweet baby. It is the hardest thing I have ever experienced, and it still takes my breath away when I get hit, out of the blue, by the grief and loss. I do, however, honestly believe that The Lord has a plan for Drew and I, for our family, and even for the precious baby that I won’t get to hold until Heaven. I still don’t understand His plan in this area, and I’d be willing to wager that I never will understand or like this part of our journey, I am thankful that He is holding us and our precious baby through it all.

Harlow’s second cancer diagnosis in April, just weeks after her fifth birthday. My uncle’s death in November. Other precious loved ones’ fighting scary health battles.

This was a very hard year. But it was also a very blessed year.

When you look back on 2013, what were your best and worst parts?
Since we know the worst parts will come, it is my hope that our best parts come from the way we’re loved, supported, and encouraged during our worst parts so that we can get just a glimpse of the redemption that is coming, when all things will be made new.

Happy 2014, brave friends!

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