Fidgety and restless tonight I sorted through Christmas cards, bills, and a folded up letter by someone I barely know. Their words were tastefully selected and perfectly honest in a way that soothed my weary eyes and calmed my anxious heart. I barely know them, and yet the picture she painted of her year in words was both honest, and in turn, absolutely beautiful and it stirred me to open my laptop, after nearly a year, and try my own.
My Christmas card this year was short and sweet. A photo and a couple of vague lines.
“Our year has been full of bright spots: watching Hallyn (10 mo) grow, watching Afton (4) grow into a wonderful big sister and watching Jesus, our Lord, present us with opportunities to grow in our understanding of who He is.”
I knew they were vague as I typed them, yet I couldn’t bring myself to say more because, I really don’t know how. It was one of those years–is one of those seasons– where I prefer to do more listening than sharing. Where when I open my mouth to try to answer a question about how we’re “really doing”, words fall flat and I’m not even sure I’m making sense to myself. Since a full night of sleep is foreign these days, sometimes everything is a blur.
So here’s a preface to this truthful letter:
This year was hard. And maybe harder than I thought it would be. Moving was hard. Adding another member to our family after 3.5 years was hard and me (Autumn) dealing with postpartum panic disorder for the past year has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever experienced.
Change is and always will be hard for me. I’m sentimental and type A. But remember how I said that some of the changes of the past year seemed uniquely designed (by God) to break us? It’s true. There is so much about us that God is showing us and gently chipping away at to make us more like Him. That might be the hardest and best thing about this year, all at the same time.
So you see, the few lines on our Christmas card are totally true. It’s been a year of growth- physically for our kids, and spiritually for us. And spiritual growth isn’t meant to stop. So, the story continues, read along if you want!
Here are some of bright spots to 2017:
Hallyn Tate: Hallyn (pronounced Holland without the d) was born just one day after her due date, February 2nd, 2017. If you follow us at all on the gram, Hallyn has developed just a few nicknames this year as we’ve gotten to know her. – Happy Hallyn, BabyBird, Hallyn Bird, Birdy, Baby Tate, H and Baby H. She is a cheerful, sweet, yet fierce and persistent little lioness. She does not laugh as easily as Afton, and we laugh at the way she stares at people while they pull out all the stops, sacrificing so often their composure, just to get the smallest grin. At home though, we merely look at her and she erupts into contagious giggles. She is very expressive, raises her eye brows and opens her mouth wide in surprise when she does something that surprises everyone, herself included, like standing alone in the middle of the room or making a loud unexpected noise. She doesn’t seem to know how young she is compared to her big sister and gets extremely frustrated when she can’t keep up with her (she’s only 10 mo vs. Afton’s 4.5 years). She’s preferred her independence from about 3 months but can definitely get used to the spoiling of older cousins, aunties and uncles on her daddy’s side. Example: this weekend she is totally eating up her role as the youngest grandchild on both sides.
Afton Rose, “big sister extraordinar”: Afton started preschool this year at a church less than a mile from our home. She enjoys the 6 other kids in her class and the big girl time away that she gets. She is gone 2.5 hours 4 times a week. She is very smart academically, as well as amazingly emotionally intelligent and sensitive. There is almost always something that she is thinking about, trying to process or feeling deeply. The Lord has gifted us with an amazing first born, and we, many times this year have asked the Lord for wisdom in raising such a unique and precious girl. Her favorite past times include “leading worship” with her little guitar and microphone, and playing “Laura and Mary” (Little House on the Prairie) or acting out almost any bible story or scenario that she’s experienced and is trying to process. She takes after Daddy in that her arms are wide open to serve the world around her and she thinks very little of herself. She takes after her mommy in her OCD and perfectionistic tendencies.
Example: She can’t wait to “serve in the nursery on Christmas Eve and frequently asks “how can I bless you?” but she had a meltdown this week as daddy horribly wrapped a white elephant gift. “IT’S NOT FUNNY! IT LOOKS TERRIBLE! I CAN’T EVEN LOOK AT IT!”
She has her own library card this year and is learning to recognize sight words so I’m convinced there is only a little time left before a whole new world opens to her!
John and Autumn: Though adventuring tends to slow down a bit with a new baby, we continue to believe that adventure is out there, and Johnny continually takes upon the challenge of helping me find it, amidst the sometimes mundane day to day of stay at home mommyhood. He’s wonderful at finding things to celebrate and never holds back from showing each of us how special we are to him. He loves being a daddy to two daughters, and he’s absolutely the right guy for the job. He celebrated 1 year at Bethel, I celebrated 1 year as a stay-at-home mom, and together we celebrated 7 years of marriage by adventuring to the North Shore with our two littles in tow. In a few days I get to celebrate him turning 31 by taking him on a ski trip- our first trip no kids since Baby H! Can’t wait to celebrate this hardworking man.
We hope that this letter finds you and your family cozy and well maybe amidst chaos, or maybe amidst the picture perfect Christmastime scene, but either way, with the understanding that things don’t have to be Pinterest Perfect, to be beautiful and in that regard, it’s been a really beautiful year for the Andersons.
❤ John, Autumn, Afton (4.5) and Hallyn (10 mo)