December 12, 2017

Christmas Letter

Where to begin? 2017 has been a year full of growth & change in our home. It has been full of good times and rough times. The year started out full of emotions after the holidays of 2016. The start of the year was a time of adjustment and emotions as we continued the journey into our new normal without Daron on this earth.

I'll be honest, the first part of the year is a total blur for me. We ended 2016 with the majority of the firsts coming one right after the other (my birthday, our wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Taylors birthday, Christmas, New Year). With all of those firsts so close together, my brain and my heart went into autopilot mode as a way to protect me I'm sure. So the start of 2017 is very blurry for me. There were other firsts that we had to face in 2017 as well. Daron's birthday is in April and that was an emotional day for sure. July ended the first year since Daron's passing and started the second year. We went to the cemetery with his parents and nephew. That was harder than I thought it was going to be, but I'm glad we went.

Taylor started 8th grade - his final year of middle school. It's crazy how fast he has grown up. Here's a photo to show how fast he has grown physically...

October 2014  (5th grade)            December 2017 (8th grade)
My son is as tall as I am now! How did that happen?!?
Like I said, this photo shows the physical changes in my son. He will be 14 in a few days and he is already counting the days until he turns 18. I think he does it just to make me feel old. 😊  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. He is thoughtful, caring, funny. He likes to make me laugh. He loves to hang out with his cousins and make them laugh. I can't wait to see what God has in store for his life! He did attend a grief camp over the summer, Camp Anew, and I know that helped him to become more sensitive to my emotions. I also truly believe it helped him to understand what he is going through since Daron passed and come to terms with it. He left the camp a changed young man and I am so grateful for that!

In October, I attended the Widows Retreat through Starlight Ministries. I attended last year shortly after Daron's death, but this year changed my life! I went last year as a way to fill part of something. This year, honestly, I went as a way to get away from everything. I just wanted a weekend to myself. I loved hearing Susan VandePolJolene DeHeer and Miriam Neff speak last year, I wanted to hear them again. I had no clue how much God was going to use this retreat to bring me closer to Him like never before. I can't even truly put into words how much my life changed from the retreat this year. I can say this, I have never had such a craving for the Word of God and for the relationship with Him that I walked away from. I am so thankful for this retreat! It is a huge blessing to be in a room with so many other women who truly understand the journey of widowhood. There is an unspoken bond between all of us and I felt like I was in a room with friends - even if I didn't know every single woman's name. Such a wonderful blessing!

2017 also brought along a milestone that Daron and I were looking forward to - our 15th wedding anniversary. I am thankful that I took the day off because it was so full of emotions. I wanted to have time to just feel the emotions, remember the memories, and just be in the moment of the day. This was a day that Daron and I talked about. We never made plans or anything, we just looked forward to this milestone anniversary. I am thankful for the 13 years and 9 months that I was married to Daron before God called him home. I will never regret the years we had together. But, there was a selfish part of me that just wanted to be with him for this milestone anniversary. I am sure that this feeling will come with every anniversary as the years go by. But, I look at our anniversary with love now and I remember the wonderful years we had together. This is one of my favorite photos from our wedding 15 years ago...

This year also brought a new job for me! I have enjoyed the past 5 years as a lunch lady, but God called me to a new job as a custodian. It is a different atmosphere and I'm sure it will be tough at times, but so far, I am enjoying this new job. I have learned that change can be good and when God calls me to it, I have to follow. Of course, this change doesn't just affect me, so I am praying that Taylor will learn to embrace this change as well. We'll see as I get further in since I only started this new job last night. 😊

As 2017 comes to an end and we look toward 2018, I can look back and see how much God has worked in my life and in Taylor's life. We have both grown in different ways, but we have grown and that is important. I have learned that you can't just stay grounded where you are. You have to keep moving forward. There are still times of deep grief and full of emotion over Daron's passing. I have learned that it is okay for me to sit and feel those emotions, but I have to remember to get up and keep moving forward when those emotions pass. If I stay in the middle of a pity party I won't learn anything and I won't keep growing. God has taught me so many things throughout 2017 and I am thankful for that. God has also brought new friends into my life and we are able to walk the widow journey together. I cannot express how thankful I am to have each of these amazing women in my life. 

May God bless each of you through this Christmas season. I hope you will be surrounded by those you love. Remember to be in the moment and truly enjoy being with friends and family. As you enter 2018, remember to cherish the memories of years gone by and look forward to the new memories you will make in the New Year. Keep yourself open to what God has in store for you throughout 2018. I know that I can't wait to see what will happen in my life in the year ahead!

Here are some photos from our recent photoshoot. Enjoy!

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