Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Taking stock of 2012.

Happy New Year!!!
2012 was one long, sometimes painful, year for me. I'm not so sad to see it go, but can truly say that I'm thankful for even the bitter parts and how God's drawn me closer to him over the last twelve months.

Let's just go ahead and call 2012 the year of babies. Babies were Every. Where.
At the end of 2011, we learned that both of my older sisters were expecting...so gender reveals and baby showers made up our family's spring and summer. We had friends that found out they were prego and other friends that got new baby puppies. Seriously...so many babies!

In May, I crossed two major things off my bucketlist. I graduated with my Master's in Social Work and celebrated being done with school forever!!! I also finished my first quilt, made for my little nephew. 

I like to say that I slept through June (pregnant), cried through July (miscarriage), and tried to move on in August. 
A little blunt, but painfully accurate.
In early June, we found out that we were expecting (after taking 6 tests) and confirmed with some blood tests. We kept it to ourselves and told no one. I also started thinking a lot about this song, not even knowing how God so perfectly placed in on my heart to prepare me for the pain ahead. Because in early July, we saw our baby for the first time...and in the same instant found out we had lost it. And we were hit with maybe the heaviest grief we've ever felt.
But only to experience God's grace and peace and comfort like never before. One week after we got that sad news, we found ourselves surrounded by some of the best friends ever...being prayed and cried over. Being loved.
And one week to the day after our miscarriage, my sweet nephew was born. God spoke really sweetly to my heart and emphasized both the bitter and sweet parts of this life...and that his joy and love are consistent through each.

Looking back, it seems so blatantly obvious that God has been holding me right in the palm of his hand. Its no coincidence that we were able to see 20 close friends (who are scattered across the country) at such a painful, empty time for us. Its no small thing that sweet, healing new life occurred one week after we experienced such painstaking death. And, just like God knew those things may not sustain us, came more celebrations to keep us healing and moving forward. I got to shower and celebrate one of my high school besties getting married. And my amazing niece was born. 
Looking back, I can see that the provisions never stopped. I had a stirring to find another job...one that was easier and lighter on my heart. And I found one that fits perfectly. We went on our first vacation in years and got to spend time with some amazing friends. He was filling us up...never letting grief become too much.

I am so thankful for all of the sweet babies in our lives. To say I'm smitten with my niece and nephew is an understatement. Completing my Master's program feels wonderful and I'm so thankful for having the privilege of getting an education and the doors its opened for me. I'm so thankful for the love around us and the chance to celebrate so many marriages with such great friends. I cannot even put into words how grateful I am for really, truly good friends. This year Justin and I have taken time to be more intentional with those really, truly good friends. I'm beyond thankful for the small group we are in and the sweet ways Jesus is showing up there. (maybe that's another blog post in its own?) I'm so thankful for hugs and kind words and prayers. Knowing I'm loved and supported is a wonderful thing. And I was never more aware of how wonderful than in 2012.

Towards the end of this year, I read Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet. Friends, read it.
But as I have spent time really praying and reflecting on the last year, two quotes from that wise book stick out to me.

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow."

Phew. Can I tell you something? I'm not sure I have that mastered, but I think that is the main lesson I've learned this year. That life is life. Equally bitter and sweet. And through it all, God is good. That's cliche, I know. But in the depths of my heart, I know its true and am learning not to be rocked by what situations I find myself in.

And I just love this last quote...

"There's nothing small and inconsequential about our stories. There is, in fact, nothing bigger. And when we tell the truth about our lives- the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts- then the gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption, instead of abstraction and theory and things you learn in Sunday school."

So whatever 2012 held for you or me, all the good and all the bad...its part of story. Worth telling and reflecting. 
I have zero idea what 2013 will hold for me, but I am starting this New Year's Day off confident that God is God no matter what happens! :)


Emily said...

Katie, this brought tears to my eyes! As you know, I experienced so many of the same feelings in 2011. It seems like you are coming to terms with everything and I'm so thankful for that. It's truly amazing how good God is, and I can't wait to see what He has in store for you guys this year!!! P.S. I think we both need to make a resolution and finally get together this year!!! Happy 2013 friend!

Allison said...

Katie this is such a wonderfully written post. You are so strong and so wise to rely on God through all your trials. That book sounds like an amazing read and I am adding it to my list! I hope 2013 is an amazing year for you!!

Ashley said...

Thank you for posting this!! I often struggle with the whys in life. I sometimes even lose faith in my journey but this post helped me have a new understanding!!

Happy New Year Katie!!! Hoping all your 2013 dreams come true!!

Allie Brooks said...

You are such a beautiful person on the inside and out! Praying for peace, comfort, and that 2013 makes all of your dreams come true! So happy I found your sweet little blog last year... you are an inspiration!

Kevin said...

Glad to see our apartment and #kebthedad made your post. Happy New Year!!

angie on maui said...

God is God, no matter what happens...I love that.

2012 was a big year for you, my friend, and reading about your highs and lows made me emotional for you. I think your ability to see God in the details while you worked through your grief was nothing short of beautiful. He is so faithful!

Wishing you all the best in 2013...so happy to be a part of your blog journey!


Shawna said...

Life is Life is the best way to describe this last year. Keep smiling girl, you are amazing and I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for you :-)!

Emily grapes said...

I absolutely loved your look back over the year. It was so honest and heartfelt.

I can't wait to see (read) how God will bless you 2 this new year.

I really like that quote about saying thank you and grow when life is bitter.

Legally Lovely said...

What a beautiful post. I'm a newer follower and am so sorry to hear of the burdens on your heart over this past year. I'm thankful though that you were able to lean on and trust in God. I hope 2013 is absolutely wonderful for you.

Megan said...

I love this post so much. You are so honest and there is so much of God's truth in it. I love that quote about when life is sweet/bitter. I need to read that book. I have loved following your blog this past year and I can't wait to see where God takes y'all in 2013!!