Wow- I can't believe this year is almost over.
I'm both relieved and saddened- but mostly relieved.
We had six funerals. Six. and that was just the people we knew well- not including celebrities. Four which happened in a two week period. Two of the six were my mother and my husband's mom. Christmas was weird without them.
We have more more debt. We were gaining ground in the beginning- at least until summer when the funerals began. Loans had to be taken out. Too much month, too little money...again. Ugh. If it wasn't for the good stuff God gives (including sanity), we'd be in those padded rooms with the pretty white coats with long sleeves by now.
I'm hobbling like an old troll. Stupid knee. I still don't know what I did to it. My medical card expired and until I get a new one, I'll just keep on hobbling. The problem isn't my knee so much anymore- it's that lovely circle of life thing (or should I call it Circle of Aargh?)- your knee hurts, so you limp. You limp for too long, your hips hurt. You stay off the knee and hip and you gain weight, losing core muscle. So now when you stand for more than five seconds, your entire body spasms with joint and muscle pain. Thanks a lot 2016...I blame you for this!
But it does get better.
Our son was accepted to the college of his choice. This is one of those 'roller-coaster' events because we are thrilled that he made it, but wonder if he'll make it. We have to apply and pray for financial aid. If it comes through, great! If it doesn't? Well, Chic-Fil-A might be a good prospect.
I'm also torn about my first fledgling taking wing out of the nest. I'm both proud and scared to death for him out in the Great Big World- especially since he has Aspergers and will deal with people who aren't so tolerant of others who think and act differently.
But another part of me is cheering along with my daughter that he will be out of the house, not eating everyone elses food, and making messes- not to mention him sneaking his laundry (which he's supposed to wash) into ours all the time.
He also seems to think he'll find work as a math tutor right away (even though he'd be a freshman and no one will know him yet), or get a job in the cafeteria, because he can eat for free and get paid. Or so he thinks.
His experience on the job market for the past two summers has been "I can't apply if you don't drive me there" and "I looked all over and applied to Chic-Fil-A, but they haven't called me yet" (he applied once and never followed up, as his parents and his entire youth group suggested), so yeah, people will be beating down your door and throwing money at you to help them study what you yourself are learning and to eat anything you want in copious amounts.
I have a feeling I'll be sending a lot of care packages next year. Either that, or he'll live on bologna and crackers until he graduates.
This is one of the hardest moments in a parent's life. Watching your babies awkwardly flutter off without flying after them. Or under them. Sigh.
But then you get into the good stuff.
We spent a week away from home for the first time in over four years (since my husband's work accident) in Indiana. It was a much needed downtime to spend with a very good friend and business associate of mine and her family, but also to get my husband away from work and ministry so he could get some rest.
Yes, I said ministry. You can get exhausted doing for others on a constant basis- and now I know why pastors take sabbaticals. Sometimes even hospitality oriented people like us need to recharge the spiritual batteries!
I worked outside of my home for the first time in eons as a Lyft driver. Good for the finances, bad for the family, but we got some debt paid down. It also helped that I did odd jobs that brought in some unexpected but welcome fundage. These were very good things because we might not have gotten the loan for the funerals if I hadn't paid off a few minor debts.
Work and the funerals were the breaking points for another revelation. I'd been feeling like the kids didn't need me anymore, and that my husband didn't need me home as much since the kids were doing the bulk of the chores. So I started working to bring in extra money and so I could feel useful.
But when I realized I was working six jobs (two airport driving companies, Lyft, face painting, crafting/sewing, and writing/Assitant Editor), yet making much less than my husband even though I was working more hours than he worked, on top of caring for my ailing mother. It was too much. I considered change, but wasn't sure of I should stop- or could stop.
It was the funerals and the aftermath that made me look at life from a different perspective. Yes, we needed the money, but money would come and go- my kids will only be with me for a little longer and they still needed me. My husband still needed me. Even the cats needed me. And let's be honest here- it didn't help that the house was a wreck. The house needed me too.
After a lot of prayer, fasting, and listening, I decided it was best to stop Lyft (the one with the most hours- and wear and tear on the van), and concentrate on writing. Actually, it was God that decided for me- I'm just doing what He told me to do!
Then the really good stuff came along.
For the first time in history, I published a book. In fact, to this date I published three books. There might even be one more for sale by the end of the year, but I'm good with three! No, they aren't my stories or my other fully-written works, but they are really awesome journals and planner/journals I made with my very own brain and keyboard! These books are going to help fund the artwork I need for my non-journal/planner written books, so when the time comes, I'll have some great books for kids and women out there!
The fact that I even had the synapses to figure out self-publishing is amazing- not to mention actually getting sales on those books within a few weeks- now that's the kind of roller-coaster I want to ride! If things go well, I might have my first storybook out in 2017. How awesome is that?
And last but not least, I surprised my husband at Christmas and got him a last-minute gift he's been wanting all year. He usually guesses what the gift is (he's exceedingly good at reading my mind and body language), but last week I was given a couple of big tips when driving and used them to order his gift lickety split- so even I didn't know I was getting it until the last minute! That might be the way to go from now on- if I get it right before his birthday or Christmas and not see him until that day, I can surprise him!
If he can't see me, he can't read me...right? I might be on to something here...
There isn't much left of 2016, but I believe it will end on a high note. This has to be the wildest ride yet, and frankly, I'd rather not have another year like this one- at least concerning the bad stuff. I think I need a week off just to recover from this year- maybe two!
Through the trials God has been with us every step of the way. I'm so grateful to Him and His blessings, and thank Him each day for the strength, comfort and provision He's given to us and those around us throughout the year.
Advice for myself and my family next year? Slow Down. Rest. Enjoy. Always give, but learn to receive.
Hospitality people have issues with receiving, did you know that? We get something and feel we have to give more in return! That's one reason we're so tired all of the time!
Oh, and one more bit of advice to my dear husband and kids. Turn off the phones, computers, tablets and tech and once in a while, just be. Unplug from the world and tune into God- it's so worth it!
Goodbye 2016- I won't miss you much. Hello 2017- things are looking up!