Not all Merry & Bright but a Year Full of Grace

This has been a year of highs and lows, moments that brought me to my knees.

We started the year with two houses and financial strain, trusting the old house would sell, trusting we would cover the basics. We left a tight knit community and sat back more than ever before, allowing connections and support to grow slowly. Feeling lonely at times but being surprised at how much closer we became as a family in the process. The buds of connection have the first small leaves, and they are beautiful.

The house sold, such deep relief and gratitude. The teen angst descended on our oldest, trying to reconcile the loving brother with the door slamming kid suddenly my size. I prayed for patience and understanding while trying to measure my time between the other 7 and an overworked husband.

Then I got sick, really, really sick. The kind of sick that for a day or so was really scary. But man was it humbling. Having meningitis, an infection in your spinal fluid, can be fatal. I thought over mistakes I have made, socially, in my family, my being defensive coming from a place of insecurity. I thought about my own personal legacy, really my children. Who they were, how they would affect the world, how I, God willing, could support them.

We had been visiting churches, still part of a church we'd spent many years in Roseville supporting and attending. We missed many friendly faces we had come to know, but knew we needed to think as a family of 10 and find a place we could grow lasting roots and celebrate together. Finding that, feeling deep relief and gratitude once again.

Ah, but the moments of joy. There are times the stress, the strain seems to out measure the peace. Robin Williams suicide, happened and the rush of emotions, the eulogy I wrote after my biological Fathers suicide, realizing I have never told roommates, friends even some family members about what happened. Realizing I carried that shame on my own shoulders. Who am I that someone I loved would not want to stay here with me? Was I not enough? But the time of healing of understanding the importance of owning the joy. It is my right to remember Christmas with him, to see a fresh snowfall or hear Irish music and feel joy, I deserve that joy, and he would want it for me. My shame is not a gift to him. I am allowed to celebrate the amazing relationship I have with my step-father whom I call Dad, without reservation.

We celebrated an anniversary that gave hope to a strong future. We have not taken the time to mark our years, we have marked adoption and birth but not our own relationship. We walked for hours on our short getaway and talked about the last 14 years and the next 14 years. It was a pivotal moment. Standing on the stone arch bridge we prayed together, for our kids, for ourselves for the future.

This has been a year I will remember as a transition, Sheff calls it a year of humility. I became a bit quieter and intentional after being sick. Ann Voskamp writes, "Perhaps the opposite of faith is not doubt. Perhaps the opposite of faith is fear."

This is not a year I want highlighted on Facebook, but it is a year that has changed my path, our family's path. All ten of us have been healthy this winter, not a small thing. We are closer and more grounded than before, we are settled and grateful.

Wishing everyone moments of real peace, of lasting connections and prayer woven quietly into celebration.

Our fall trip to Ely, Camp du Nord, was a family highlight this year.


  1. I received some kind notes, thank you! I think in part I wanted to process that it was OK to have darkness on a day of such light. We celebrate the birth of Christ and with birth is always mess and pain. To overlook this side of joy makes the holiday less about Faith and hope and more about the illusion of perfection. This year was an unexpected gift! Becoming closer with our family, really truly growing in Faith, weaving our way into a great educational community, strengthening relationships with families that we just hadn't taken the time to have fellowship (house building, house selling, sick and so on!) And I think the future of where we are right now is very bright. ~


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