It’s only April and I feel like I’ve aged 10 years.

We stepped into this year and I picked the word “Joy.” Please note, I didn’t say I felt called to that word. I just picked it. Because I wanted more joy. I felt because I wanted Joy, God would give us more Joy as a family. Instead our lives have been turned inside out, wrung, and in many ways hung out in frigid crisp air to dry. Instead of warm air softening us like fabric hanging in the breeze, we have felt cold and stiff.

I’ve made the joke that God got Joy confused and instead picked Job for us. Except it’s not a funny joke, but I’m trying- I’m trying to find moments of joy. And there are so many. There’s just also a lot of hard stuff.

This has been the hardest few months of my life.

And it’s not just one thing.

It’s all the things.

Last weekend I spent the weekend with 125 women in Central Oregon and was able to share with them about “Joy Thieves.” Kind of full circle since I feel like my year of Joy was stolen from me. I shared openly about how this was the hardest year, and I saw I was not alone. Everyone has stuff going on. And a lot of it is big huge stuff. I shared about how if we are willing to share the good and our highlight reel we need to be willing to share our lowlight “real” too. You know the real where we have something stuck in our teeth, and our pants won’t button, and our eyes are puffy from crying.

I’ve never hid from that here. My words have always true and real, and messy.

But every shiny happy “cohesive Instagram grid*” makes me feel like I should have it more together. That if only I was a more faithful person God would give me my year of joy back. Don’t get me wrong- I have joy, and there is a lot of good things in my life, and good days. But there’s also a lot of tough stuff going on.

And again it’s not just been one thing.

It’s been all the things.

In True Love

It’s been a tough few months in the land of “as long as we both shall live.” Maybe the toughest we’ve had in all our years together. This is a deeply private thing but we are living through it. And we’ve been through a lot. And sometimes it’s all a lot. And it takes a lot of love and a lot of work. There’s this incredible part in the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” in Hamilton the musical that really has resonated with me.

“I don’t pretend to know, the challenges we’re facing. I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost. And you need time. But I’m not afraid. I know who I married. Just let me stay by your side. That would be enough.”

In Raising Love

Our kids have also been through stuff, not just with us almost losing Micah. But just a lot of really big life altering things. When my kids go through stuff – I go through stuff, because my kids are everything to me. And sometimes the little things can build into so much more. I feel like each of them have had to carry a lot more than they could handle this year, and have had to work through things we weren’t expecting. I respect my older boys need for their stuff to be their stuff and private, and them to be able to share their real in their own ways with their own safe people. But one example I can share is it’s been hard seeing Grace for the most part sit by herself everyday at lunch all year. She doesn’t have a buddy in her class. To hear of things said to her by other girls in her class. To hear her anxiety about next year. She has always been so filled with joy even when school is difficult, but some of it has been dimmed this year.

In (self) love

First off, I hate the term Self Care. It goes against every part of who I am. The way I love best, is by showing up for other people. I’m not a watcher. In fact I resent people that watch others do…And don’t offer. I’m doer. It’s how I love. So self care is as foreign to me, as self medicating is. I’d much rather do soul care- take care of others, and then do the stuff that matters…pray, and get my mind right. Whether that’s counseling, sitting before Jesus, working out, spending time with a safe friend…all of these things are soul care things. They don’t require bubble baths(puke) or me to have me time. I’m not actually a huge fan of me lately…so really I’d rather find other things to do than me time. Which is a whole other thing…all this stuff I dealt with as a kid, all the weird crap I just pretended wasn’t a part of who I am? Well suddenly this year it all became very apparent that it’s effected my life, and all of the sudden it makes sense, and I’m so over that.

Also I’m really lonely. I’m afraid to talk too much because I don’t want to be that friend. The friend whose always asking for prayer. All my friends are going through their own stuff. So a lot of times It’s just me. And it’s lonely. And remember I don’t really want to hang out with me. Because News Flash: I’m a mess half the time.

In Perfect Love…my faith.

The more time I’ve spent in prayer this year(which is probably more than I have in my whole life), the more I’ve become aware of cracks in the foundation of so many things. It’s been a little bit heart wrenching, and not easy, as I have questioned more than I ever have. What I can say now without any shadow of a doubt is God is Love, and a lot of us have been getting that part wrong. Also “The Our Father” is one of the most beautiful prayers. Gosh, I love it- and I love the words and what they mean. And when I say them I really mean them. That’s something else I’ve come to- I like to know what I’m saying in prayer. It’s important to me. Words Matter. “The Word” changed my life. And we need to remember where God would be when we use our words…if we are alienating or marginalizing anyone…we’ve got it wrong. God is Love. Period. There is no but.

In “For the Love!”

And I won’t bore you with all the crazy things that have gone wrong…cars, house, stuff. My band is on a hiatus and I miss singing. I don’t know if I’m supposed to stay at my job. Hashimotos and anemia is stupid. All this Just random stuff that’s small but is big when it all compiles. Bills, and medical bills that we are waiting on.

Also it needs to stop raining.

In fear for Love

I wrote something and I’ve deleted it. Twice. Almost 11 days in the hospital. Longest 11 days of my life. We almost lost our Micah. But miracles happened, and He is a miracle. I will be unpacking a lot of what we went through for sometime. But I’m not crying as much this week so I feel like we are making progress. He laughs a lot again. I’d missed his laugh. And I’m so grateful He’s still here. I’m grateful for his Doctors and Nurses, all gifts from God. Every person who took care of him was a part of saving his Life.

Love love love.

So back to the beginning- now our word for the year is Gratefulness. And I feel like gratefulness is something I do have a lot of- even in all the broken and cracked parts of our year. I took a picture today of myself and I saw my laugh lines and bags under my eyes…and for the first time in a while I was just so grateful for those laugh lines. Because there is a sacredness to me in surrender. And I’ve learned a lot about surrender. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I do know- we have so much to be grateful for.

Every stressful thing the last two months shows on my face and in my waistline, but I know a few things to be true no matter what…

God is Good. Our family is loved. Prayer is Powerful and Works. My kids are good humans, and are wonderfully and fearfully made. I love my husband with my whole heart.

And even when things are hard. Life is worth fighting for. All the things are worth fighting for. And I’m so grateful for that.

Even if it’s only April.

* Cohesive Instagram Grid is a thing. A legit thing. A friend told me about it. And then I googled it. It’s so all your photos have similar tone and color, and evoke a certain feeling of calm. It’s very common with professional photographers- which makes sense. I am not a professional, so my Instagram is as cohesive as a hot mess. But whoever sees it know I love my kids. And that’s good enough for me.