Leave it to me to compare my life to food but that’s what I think about when I reflect on 2017. Dinner is dinner is dinner, but when it comes to options there are some very real differences. Pasta is a comfort food, its good in a pinch, its cheap, its reliable- you can always find pasta in the cabinets and it kind of goes with anything- it rolls with the punches. On a good week pasta goes with chicken parm and on the bad weeks it goes with sauce. It fills you up for a while and finishes the task of feeding the kids but it’s not really appreciated- it just is.
Then there are homemade mashed potatoes. They really can’t stand on their own. They clearly need a steak and some fresh steamed veggies on the side. Potatoes need to be peeled and boiled and mashed. They require more than just hot water and a can of sauce to be “good”. Unlike pasta, they aren’t usually just sitting in the pantry waiting; you have to remember to buy them at the store. But boy are they worth the added effort and planning.
Both pasta and mashed potatoes achieve the same result, dinner is finished and tummies are full. Both are comfort foods, but to me one is a reliable standby and the other, the product of a little extra work and thought.
I’m not sure about you but I can’t even believe 2017 really happened. I look back at the pictures I posted or the updates I wrote on Facebook and I can hardly take it all in. Bob and I had started this year with a “to-do” list. We went out to lunch and wrote what we thought were our goals for this year on a napkin. We hung it in our kitchen. I remember thinking… this will be a “coast year”- one where we go on vacations, spruce up the house, wait for official adoption dates and enjoy all the good things we have worked so hard for in the years prior. It’s a mashed potato year and we were about to eat it all up!
What a better way to start a mashed potato year but to plan a vacation. In 2017 we booked, organized and traveled all the way down to Florida! Unfortunately amid the planning and traveling there was an undercurrent of worry that had begun to sink in. I was actually SO. SICK. To spare the agonizing details, I was in and out of the doctor with “suspicious bleeding” and it just kept getting worse. (And worse) Failed procedure after failed procedure, the year started to turn into pasta. We had to rely on what we already had.
There are all of these pictures on Facebook where I was so happy, Ben’s finalized adoption, our huge Easter Egg hunt, a few of the kids birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and even the closing on our 2nd income property- and I was happy, I was smiling, but I was terrified and wasn’t getting better. We weren’t even close to a year of enjoying mashed potatoes. So good old reliable pasta kept us afloat no matter what we were dealing with.
Then finally, on May 19th I had a total hysterectomy. Terrifying.
On any given day, Bob and I have a lot on our shoulders, (not that we would have it any other way) but we are just two human people. How quickly we realized our health is taken for granted. At the rate that Bob and I do life, day after day- there hadn’t been any time to worry. No time to plan, no time to peel and boil potatoes -so we didn’t this year. At all. We were blessed to have enough reserves to get us through one of the scariest times that our family has had to endure. In the end we were blessed to be able to even pull off just a pasta year.
As he always is, God is so faithful. By 8pm the day of the surgery I had chosen to leave the hospital to heal at home. This was only the beginning of an important lesson for me. Following the surgery I spent 6 weeks doing what a friend of ours, Ms. Riggins, called “leaning in”. We had volunteers and church members bringing dinner, and friends brought me books and snacks, volunteers took our kids to EVERY. SINGLE. Baseball and softball game this season! Our babysitters worked overnights. I went on random home depot trips and to grocery stores with my mother or my friends just to get out and walk in the months I wasn’t allowed to drive.
Given no other choices this year, learning to “lean in” was such a wonderful and humbling experience.
Mid July our descent down the other side of the mountain began. The adoption of both boys from different counties and the end of Foster Care for our family was just the beginning! Not only did I get back to work 6 weeks after surgery, but I was interviewed for and accepted another promotion when I got back. Not only did we manage to hold the mortgage on our newest fixer upper but we finished the repairs and it is being rented tomorrow!
I also went to Ithaca for almost a week for work in August, Tybee Island and Savannah, GA in September (thanks for the invite Aunt Mary!) and Bob and I even made it to Schroon Lake for our annual marriage retreat in October. We covered the full football season, minus about 3 or 4 practices and games. And, I also began to pursue my passion for writing and adoption- and someone is paying me (not much, but a little something)…
Why am I telling you all of this? Because “Life Happens”, even to us. We choose to try again day after day and somewhere between our sweat and tears, a few close friends, and God’s grace- we figure it out. Even if it means we eat a little pasta for a while. We keep showing up. We trust our faith more than our emotions -because God has always come through. And we build our reserves up so that on years like this there is something left in “our pantry” to rely on.
I don’t think we will ever plan for a “coast year” ever again. Instead, we will make plans on another napkin in the next few days and be ever so thankful that we are here and able to work towards them no matter what we face next. Hopefully next year will be a little less pasta and a little more homemade mashed potatoes. Anything beyond that is just gravy.
Happy New Year Folks!