A time for reflection

As I reflect on this year like so many do as they look ahead to the year to come, I notice so many challenges that we’ve grown through. We survived and even thrived through the end of AJs command time (no it wasn’t easy literally none of it was easy! So much happened in Europe during that time…) and thriving in that season felt very different than thriving would feel now in this job and season. But we did it. We succeed. He succeed and the people we had the privilege of mentoring and doing life with will forever be in our hearts.

We grew our family then turned around and bought a house sight unseen (we FaceTime met our realtor while I was in labor and waiting to go to the hospital…) then had our house packed two weeks postpartum. Traveled at 3 weeks postpartum (did that with Reagan too so that felt achievable for us as a family). Attended my grandmothers funeral via YouTube streaming. Flew and moved back to the USA back to the Midwest at 7 weeks postpartum. Attended my grandfathers funeral in person. Moved to Iowa and worked tirelessly on our house before our stuff arrived. Had our things arrive with stolen items, lost items, and damaged items (the move wasn’t kind to us). Our kids are amazing and always surprise us even in the hard and through the not listening.

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I now sit in my house in Iowa reflecting on a year of hard. Yet a year that I wouldn’t change. It provided so much love, growth, and connection to our family. We loved the chapter in Europe that had to close. Our time so far here, close to family, close to many friends is priceless and cannot be matched. It’s what we needed for this season.

I’m beyond thankful that with each duty station, each home, and each new town as Reagan calls it still we pray for God to use us for His glory, His plan, and show us why and how we can serve this community. We pray for connection and I didn’t realize how I got that connection and community until reflecting just now… I joined MOPS here, were we are placed in the beginning of the year at tables that we stay at all year. My table is filled with two military “brats”, a former military wife (her husband is retired now), a mom who isn’t from the area but has now been here for a few years, a mom who grew up here and has always lived here, and a fellow current military spouse (our husbands are battle buddies now). The understanding of this lifestyle even if we’ve had different experiences is a comfort. It’s helpful for me since being thrown into civilian life has been hard. So so hard. The reintegration into American life after being fully immersed in European life is challenging is so many aspects. But what’s also hard is the reintegration into being close to family again. It’s like a deployment when the service member comes home… the coming back home and doing life together again instead of simply sharing about it from a distance takes time, intentionality, patience, and love. It’s not easy and our time away has made that challenging for us to jump in the ways we imagined. We’ve focused on being as intentional as we can. With our extended family and also our family of four. Supporting ourselves mentally and emotionally and keeping certain routines that we enjoy and serve us well. But also trying to be intentional with new pulls, traditions, and wants to be at everything. I don’t share this to focus on the “bad” but to look at the last year and all it’s been, challenges and blessings, together. Because by looking at all that you’ve grown through can aid you in finding your hopes and goals for the new year.

I challenge you to revisit this last year; not to morn it or push it aside if it’s been hard and challenging; but to see what blessing or blessings have come through those hard times. What can you flip the script on and be grateful for? What has helped grow you to be a better you? What can you use to carry you into this new year with more hope, love, and kindness to yourself, your family, and those around you?

I pray that if your year has felt like it’s continued to knock you down that 2023 is simply gentler to you.

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