I’ve never been great at daily journaling – but I’ve always respected and valued the practice. Taking the opportunity to look back and reflect on the moments and experiences of the past not only remind a person of where they’ve been – but can also give insight into where they’re going. It’s amazing to see how things that seemed impossible in the moment, are miraculously worked out, with design and purpose.
So, with that in mind, as 2017 draws to a close, I have been intentionally reflecting on the year, and some of the moments that have impacted us as a family, as we prepare to usher in 2018.
Last Christmas, I created my annual chalkboard drawing for the season, and the words “comfort and joy” kept coming to mind. It was fitting, so I went with it. But, as the holiday season came to an end, and I began contemplating what design to create next, I kept coming back to “comfort and joy”. At first I thought this was silly, because after all, it’s a “Christmas phrase”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how appropriate these words were for 2017; how much they represented my hope for the year that lay ahead.
You see, 2016 had been one of the hardest years we had ever had as a family, and I was so glad to be ushering in a new year – a fresh slate, with much anticipation! Needless to say, the words “comfort and joy” became my mantra; what I wanted everything in the year to encompass. And when I reflect upon 2017 from this side of it, I can truly say that these words were embraced in our home.
Starting with the arrival of Molly Blythe, on January 16th. I was induced two weeks early, and a good thing too, as our little bundle was already 8 lbs! She has truly been the highlight of our year; she’s our little vintage babe, and if I had a dollar for every time someone told me she looks like a baby doll, or the Gerber baby, well – I’d have a lot of dollars. We also had the fun of a family wedding, with Jeff’s youngest brother getting married, when Molly was just 10 days old. It was so fun to welcome two new members into the family in January!
For myself personally, Molly’s arrival also signalled a season of rest. I don’t “rest” well, and I’m almost always busy with something; I find it difficult to say no. So even though some may say that the first year with a new babe is anything but restful, for me, it truly was. I have savoured my days at home with my children, and enjoyed a slower, less scheduled pace of life. I have not taken my maternity leave for granted this time around, and although I am a mama who typically works outside of the home, I also have such a respect for mamas who stay home full time with their kiddos, as I experienced this truly for the first time. The coziness of those winter days at home with my newborn are days I will always treasure; days when the laundry, dishes, and vacuuming waited, while I snuggled my sweet babe in front of the fireplace.
Spring is always welcome here on the Saskatchewan Prairies – as the winter tends to last far longer than any other place on earth (it seems). And we were blessed to kick-off our spring with a visit to British Columbia to see my brother, his wife, and their baby daughter who is three weeks younger than Molly. The opportunity to get away without our big kids was a real joy for Jeff and I – not that we don’t enjoy our big kids – but the more kids we have, the less opportunity there is to find time to be together without the hustle and bustle of the needs of our little people. We were also lucky enough to be in BC at Easter time, which is always a special season of renewal for me; a time when I truly re-set and reflect upon my purpose. Our kids also had the chance to plant their very first garden, and it was fun to watch them take ownership of the tasks involved, and their delight at watching their hard-work pay off when the plants began to grow and bloom!
Summer for our family is always anticipated; as teachers this is our longest break, and the chance to truly unwind and reconnect as a family. We often travel and tour in the summer, along with time spent up in Northern Saskatchewan camping. We began the summer with a trip through Southern Alberta for a family reunion, and time spent in Calgary visiting iconic locations such as the Calgary Zoo and Heritage Park. My only regret is that we didn’t head to Banff for a day. Truly – if you’ve never been, this part of Canada is so worth a visit! Following our time in Alberta, we spent several days at Jeff’s family farm, which is the highlight of the year for our kiddos! The mid-portion of our summer holiday was spent serving at a family camp, enjoying the outdoors, swimming in a (cold) Saskatchewan lake, and connecting with other friends and family. Our summer ended on the high note of a second family reunion and the launching of my grandfather’s book on the story of Camp Oshkidee – his legacy. I cannot express how truly honoured I feel to have been part of the writing of this story, and the opportunity to unveil it for family was such a special moment – one I won’t soon forget.
Fall of this year kicked off with a family wedding! My younger sister was married at the beginning of September- the last of my siblings to get married. In some ways it’s bittersweet to think that this season of our life as an extended family has come to a close – but the blessing of the next season; of children being born, of noisy family gatherings, of cousins playing together, is something I am so excited for! As a family, we were plunged into a busy season, with lots of extracurricular activities for both Jeff and Isla. Isla was particularly thrilled with the opportunity to take Riding Lessons, and this little horse-lover was completely in her element – a characteristic she certainly didn’t inherit from her mama! Fall also signalled a shift for me, as I began to embrace the amazing IG Community and re-launched my blog. I have always been a person who enjoys keeping busy, but at the same time, have struggled to find a hobby I can truly embrace – one that feels purposeful. For me, that’s what this forum has become. A creative outlet; an opportunity to capture these everyday moments of life – through both writing and photography – and most of all, a chance to connect with others. I have been blown away by the real life friendships I have made this fall through social media.
As our winter season began, the magic of Christmas was experienced through the eyes of our children. I’m not sure I have ever been more excited for Christmas myself, watching them fully prepare and engage in the events of the season. Weekends were spent as a family, touring local Christmas light displays, skating, and visiting friends. We also had the amazing opportunity, thanks to my parents generosity, to take a family trip for an official “Polar Express” train ride experience, and it’s true: “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” Which brings me to the thing that was most meaningful as a mama this Christmas – witnessing my children’s deeper understanding of the true meaning of the season – the birth of Jesus, and the hope He continues to bring to the world.
2017, you were good to us! I reflect on more joy than pain, and more comfort than distress. Although the year, like any other, had it’s ups and downs, and seasons of challenge, I can truly say it was one of both comfort and joy for our family. And so to end, I leave you with the words that have been ever present in my thoughts this year; whatever 2017 bestowed upon you, may the newness of 2018 bring you and yours both comfort and joy.
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” Song Lyrics