Okay, I think we all say this every single year…but really, where did this year go? We’re in the last month of 2016. Wasn’t it just 2009 and I was graduating high school? And then college flew by and now I’ve been married for almost two years. But, here we are celebrating the end of a really exciting year. Oh my goodness, we had so many sweet memories this year (see my 2016 travel diary here). 2016 has been full of lessons (as is every year), but I think this year was especially challenging, exciting and beautiful for me. Our world has seen so many hardships, really scary things, political divides and challenges of getting through to a stressed out “microwave generation.” Over and over again this year, I was reminded that this place is not our home and it is well with my soul despite what the world around me tries to say. That’s ultimately the only true hope we have and the entire reason we celebrate this season.
As I reflect on this year, I’ve been reminded of just how much we have to be grateful for and just how badly we need a Savior. If this year taught me one thing, it was that God didn’t create us be islands and he gave us relationships for a reason. In fact, I’d venture to say that relationships are pretty much what life is all about. I’ve been reminded over and over again how grateful I am for our loved ones. God wants us to dive into our communities and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Plus, having community around you makes the challenges in life a bit more bearable. Forging a new community when you move is hard work and takes time, especially when you’re so used to having a built in community for over twenty years. I’ve had a hard time this year adjusting to living away from where I grew up.
I think things got so real for me when we bought a house in Georgia and I realized we were staying for a while. Frankly, I grew up in the Florida version of Stars Hollow (side note, I’m still not happy with the Gilmore Girls ending) and as much as we all hated it at times, it has a certain kind of appeal. And I’ve learned that living away has renewed my pride in my hometown and reminded me of how fortunate I was to grow up in a genuine community. Moving does things like this to you and as hard as moving away can be, I think it’s still such a good thing. For one thing, I’ve learned how to take people at face value and not judge them by the reputation they gained in middle school. Coming to a new place and meeting new people forces you to get over some of that. Also, when you go back to your hometown to visit, your time there is just so much sweeter because you appreciate it more.
Besides my emotions about settling down here in Atlanta and missing my family so fiercely, I’ve been reminded of how thankful I am to be a preschool teacher and work with kids on a daily basis. The job I currently have, teaching four year old’s, is my favorite job that I’ve ever had. I love everything about these little ones, my little school and the work family I’ve made. There’s something so sweet about looking at the world through the eyes of four year old’s each day. They do something to your soul, renew your hope in mankind and remind you that there’s something good in everyone (sometimes you just have to dig to find it). Plus, I’ve had this constant confirmation that my purpose in life here on this earth is without a doubt to work with children in some capacity or another.
And last, this year has taught me that marriage is hard work. No one has ever honestly said otherwise. But, it’s also true what they say about it being worth every ounce of hard work, because marriage can bring this indescribable joy that I didn’t know was possible. Having someone to share your life with every day and help you through the crazy emotions that life often sends your way is just about one of the greatest gifts in life. I’m thankful for the way our marriage has grown both of us this year, challenged us to be better people, see ourselves in a different light and the world in a better way. We’ve seen the best and worst in each other this year, but we’ve had the opportunity to love each other despite all of our faults. We got to help each other through our travels and adventures to various parts of the world, buy a home together and celebrate the little victories in life. As each year passes, I’m more and more grateful that God chose us to be each others partners in life. One thing is for sure, I know that God has me exactly where he wants me and His plan is so much sweeter than our own plans.