"Look both ways before you cross the street."
These are the words that my mom, like many other mothers across the world, etched into the brain of her child. Of course, Mom was advising me to pay attention to cars which could come from either direction and turn me into smut. But she was also telling me to look at where I've been and where I am going.
I've been a lot of places in 2017. Speaking literally, that isn't totally true. Aside from our winter ski trip to Colorado and a few random visits to Texas to see family, I've mostly stayed in Norman. The rest of my life, though, has been all over the map.
I quit a few things this year, including dairy, gluten, and my job, but we began a lot more. This blog. AirBnB. Doorpost Collections. Piper in "big school". Dogsitting and human-sitting. The simultaneous newness of it all felt crushing at times. I said "yes" way too much.
When your husband works for Hobby Lobby, you naturally take advantage of his employee discount and buy all of the things every chance you get. After all, one can never have too many Christmas decorations, right? This year, I purchased a new table runner. It's mostly made of burlap, similar to seemingly all of the other decor in our home. But if you look closely, especially when the sun is first streaming in through the windows and shining upon our kitchen table at dawn, you can see tiny gold threads woven throughout it.
Our new table runner is the tapestry of 2017. At the beginning of the year, I chose a word that I wanted to define my life: joy. While it is true that The Joy Project allowed me to see with clearer eyes and more gratitude, it is also true that many of my days were like the scratchy burlap that stretches across our table: stiff and dull. I worried too much and prayed too little. I obsessively filled my plate with obligations due to self-imposed guilt. I struggled with my relationship with running, and with relationships in general. I got mad at my kids and my husband. I had a lot of monotonous, ordinary days that ended far too late because of studying for school and started far too early because, well, such is life with small children. I strove for perfection and came up short. And yet, there were these golden moments of joy that appeared every so often, these threads that God wove in to keep me both brave and humble.
This is where I have been.
I'm not exactly sure what the new year holds. We could have a foster child in our home any day now, a fact which partially excites but mostly terrifies me. I don't feel ready, but I'm not sure that I ever will. When we began Piper's adoption process, we had all of the same feelings, but we closed our eyes, held our breaths, and jumped in anyway. That is when we watched miracles happen.
That single word is my desire for 2018. I know that stillness will require setting more boundaries and saying "no" more often, things which I have already begun to do. But I also believe that there is more to stillness than the physical removal of commitments from the calendar. I'm picturing myself in the middle of one of these tornadoes that frequent the plains of Oklahoma. The winds are blowing up all sorts of debris around me, but I am not frantic. I am calm. Grounded. Content. Finding quiet in the storm.
This is where I am going.
Photo credits: JEShoots and Keeley RIckles