the 2015 year in review..

When the brothers were just babies, we bought a journal that read, “kids say the darnedest things” on the cover. We hoped to fill the pages with hundreds of stories and quotes of the countless hilarious and wonderful things our sons were saying and doing those days. We didn’t. About two pages in we quit, the book got lost under a pile of other books, and that was that.

All speculation about failed resolutions aside, I am ending the year here with some things I want to remember. This isn’t an exhaustive list but I hope it’s one I can refer back to with a lot of joy as I remember 2015.

1. We quit social media this year! I don’t ever want to forget what a raw experience it was at the end of last March to come to terms with the idea, follow through, and walk into territory that none of our peers would. I don’t ever want to forget the ripple effect it had (and is still having) on our lives, all the way through. I don’t want to forget the podcast we started (albeit infrequent), interviewing our boys to hear the effect it had on them, and the “aware” episode where we realized most of our original fears were unfounded.

2. Quitting social media opened countless windows of free time. That free time landed me in the library a lot, or awaiting the ups man as he delivered another book to our house. For the first time in my life, I am looking back on a year where I can’t remember all of the books I read. There’s too many to list here so I list the ones that stuck out. I don’t want to forget these ones. There are a few mentioned here that came in at just the right time and changed the trajectory of my life.

3. I don’t want to forget the moment at the movie theater. sitting in the theater with the boys this winter, waiting for their kid movie of choice to begin, this commercial played:

“yeah, yeah, another toy commercial to push the Christmas agenda.” I thought. But the story unfolded in such a way that I was touched. At the end of it, Tyler grabbed my arm, looked into my eyes with tears in his, and said, “aw, mom..” He gave me the sweetest, saddest smile I will ever see this side of heaven.

Tyler hasn’t had the easiest year. School is challenging, his studies overwhelm him, and kids at school aren’t always kind. There have been moments this year when I’ve held him in my arms like a giant baby and watched him sob. There have been moments where I feared the light was leaving his eyes. In this moment, I saw him in there again, that tender and bright little man expressing his love for me.

4. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget Rhabdomyolysis. I don’t think I’ll ever want to, either. If you were debilitated and spent an entire month of your life in bed hopped up on pain killers, you probably wouldn’t want to forget it either. In the moments when I feel like I’m still playing catch up, when I can’t walk up stairs without pain in my quads, when I see people out running and feel excluded from “the club”, I hope I remember rhabdo and can give myself grace accordingly. It happened. It wasn’t part of the plan. I watched too much lost. I took too much oxycodone. It sucked. I may never be able to exercise the same way again. the end.

5. I want to remember our trip to England — the time Jeremy and I rented a room at a working sheep farm in the english countryside near a small town called “Grendon.” I want to remember the long walks we took to the village to have fish and chips and a pint for our lunch. I want to remember the wedding of the dear folks who got married, previous workshop attendees, who toasted us at their own wedding and said we had changed their lives. I don’t want to forget being healthy and happy and completely naive to all the hardships that were to come. It was wonderful.

6. 2015 was the year that finally put the nail into the coffin of wedding photography being my top priority. I don’t want to forget that. Half a decade ago, the worst possible thing I could imagine was missing a wedding. I missed more than a handful of weddings this past year in order to stay home and take care of our youngest son who, all of these times, was hospitalized. I love my job but it’s not who I am and it no longer holds first place in my heart. I’m relieved and thankful for that.

7. I don’t want to forget getting over myself. For a lot of years in our business, we taught and practiced the art of turning people away. We had the assumption that we were just too good for some people, that they didn’t “get it.” 2015 was the year of humbling. When we put ourselves in the position of the people who had contacted us, we didn’t like it. Last year we stopped looking for the perfect match in our clients and became completely dependent on prayer to lead the right people our way. As a result it was the most diverse crowd we have ever photographed and one of the most fulfilling years we’ve had. Instead of hot shot photographers, we were just two people who provide a service to wonderful, open, generous humans on a day we have no right to be a part of.

8. I don’t want to forget what five years of grieving my dad felt like. The five year mark brought hope, restoration, and lightness I wasn’t expecting. It brought laughter and celebration of the memory of my dad without unbearable pain. It bought my mom back to this area of the country with her husband. They live in a farmhouse surrounded by land that we and the boys go explore whenever we can. It’s been like air in the lungs for my soul. I am thankful for the divine mystery of how it all works, for the love of God in my dad’s absence, for the things that happened that have no explanation apart from him.

9. This was the year of podcasts. Serial, On Being, Radiolab, Invisibilia, Dave Ramsey, This American Life, Limetown, etc. etc. I put my headphones in my ears, pushed play, hand washed the dishes, and learned things. Things about neuroscience and big game hunting and football and debt payoff and poetry and storytelling. By quitting social media I sacrificed knowing that so-and-so’s kids are playing on the monkey bars (while mommy spends her time on insta) but I gained the joys of learning how to listen to and digest things I didn’t’ know. I loved the time I spent listening and I plan to do more of it this year.

10. I don’t want to forget the financial stuff. The low point. The mess we had made with our bad choices. The grace of God shown to people who make messes. The debt payoff. Lessons learned. Practices adopted. It was hard and nasty and it was all for our best. Hashtag Dave Ramsey baby steps forever.

11. I found my home in a group of women who know and love me. We meet once a week. We talk about God. We talk about everything and more. We laugh and cry and make fun of ourselves. I love them and feel like my soul found a safe home in the hearts of these women.

12. I embraced writing. Or maybe it embraced me. Either way, the two of us are having a lot of fun together these days. I wrote something to share with the world, completely destroyed it, and then wrote it again, better. I wrote a ten day creative experience and put it up for sale. It’s called re-set, and it gives the reader a ten day detox/sabbatical from social media to clear their heads and re-set their personal and creative focus. I like it. I believe in it. And it turns out a lot of other people like it and believe in it, too. There’s nothing like writing something and then hearing from a reader, “it CHANGED MY LIFE.” I made it by showing up in my little writing trailer every day at 9am and embracing writing. As I look forward to 2016, selfishly, this is one of the things I’m most excited about — that little trailer and the sacred and secret ground I’ve discovered in that little place.

this was also the year

Zion fell of his bike in the street and knocked his two front teeth out. just three more years to go until he doesn’t look like a hillbilly!
Micah got an ipod and started going into his own world of music, never to be seen again.
The local baseball team won the world series.
Zion’s brain continued to function despite an abnormal CT scan.
Jeremy built the boys (and consequently the neighbor kids) a rope swing in our back yard.
Papa alec lived with us.
Min Ji lived with us.
We went to Hawaii together.
I spent days at my Grandfather’s house in England, recording stories from his life.
An article I wrote was published in a magazine.
One of my dearest friends had a baby.
One of my dearest friends lost a baby.
Two of my dearest friends found out they are going to have a baby.
We had one of the best trips ever to celebrate with friends in San Francisco.
Micah got a crush for the first time and asked a girl to the dance.
I got to visit my dear friends Amy and Christopher and fell in love with Montana.
we visited amish country and Andrew Wyeth’s old home and studio. It felt like magic.
I started painting and writing poetry.
We had several life-altering trips to Westcliffe, Colorado.
The brothers ran track for the first time.
Zion now speaks in complete sentences, runs, kicks balls, and climbs stairs.
We launched the new dontgiveupproject site.

It’s a lot and it’s not even close to all of it. But it was a good year. I look back on it and see how fast and wonderful and hard and good it all was. Everything that happened had its purpose and its place. I’m thankful and hopeful looking back and going forward.