And what. a. year. Marriage. A home purchase. Losses that knocked the wind out of us. Joy that seeped into the cracked places of our hearts. New places and new friends...and always the treasured old.
Tears and smiles, awe and gratitude joined me in the car today. But more than anything, I felt grace. Grace all over the year, woven through the ups and downs. God's presence. His protection. And His providence.
Sometimes we need to look more closely at the small things to see beauty...but sometimes we also need to step back and look at the larger picture. Join me as I recount the big and small things of 2015?
I was knee-deep in wedding planning, a nervous but excited fiancee looking ahead to the biggest change in my life.
I accompanied P. (fiance at the time) and my bestie R. to the March for Life in Washington D.C. Always a powerful trip as we show our nation's leaders (and the few media channels that will cover it) that we believe every life is a gift and worth living.
P. was invited to lead the prayer for the opening of a House of Rep. session at our statehouse. Such an honor!! His brother, nephew, and I were tickled pink to join him!
We were blindsided by the sudden death of my father-in-law. By God's grace, all the family members were already in town for a Baptism (some live as far as the East Coast) and were able to stay together for the following week. The grief and shock were overwhelming. We were too young to lose a parent. I felt so inadequate to comfort my husband-to-be, yet was so deeply touched by the way his family banded together in their grief. I felt blessed to become part of this family, this legacy.
We found our house. Searching for a home during our seven-month engagement proved to be one of the most challenging things we did and possibly stretched us the most as a couple. But I'll never forget the day we saw this house...shortly after losing the bid on a previous home I had wanted. We both fell in love with the country view, the quaint two-story, and the white woodwork. Within a week, we had had our offer accepted.
My bachelorette party with my sisterhood. These girls. The ones who have been with me through the ups and downs of single life, relationships, faith struggles, and self-image woes. We have a history together...and a future. Their hearts were so generous in helping me plan and prepare for marriage. Some friends will stay in your life forever.
I stood face-to-face with the man who swept me off my feet and vowed to love him forever. I watched him cry as I walked up the aisle. We worshiped together in song after receiving our precious Jesus in the Eucharist. We were overjoyed at the church full of so many loved ones who traveled near and far to support us, pray with us, and celebrate with us.
After a crazy two-week stint of living in both our apartments (an hour apart) on a random schedule, we moved into our new home! My mom and dad get the highest praise here, I've never seen anyone work so hard in helped us pack and unpack. We also had a sweet band of friends who made endless rounds from the trailer to the house. I hope they move soon so we can begin to repay them!!
One of the most joyful and painful months of our lives. We learned I was pregnant. Those moments of awe that a little life is within you...soon changed to the agony of having the little life leave you too soon. We lost our sweet son, Ignatius, to miscarriage. Despite being only two months into our marriage, my husband was a rock for me. My mom and my sister were lifeblood. And all the women who came out of the woodwork and shared their own miscarriages gave me strength and hope that we, too, would get through this. I was most comforted by these words of Mother Angelica.
It's an odd thing to be an adult. Because somehow, you can grieve and rejoice at the same time. And so while we still carried our grief, we were also enjoying our first few months of marriage and life in our new home. We hosted about forty young adults at a local park for a summer party of sports, pizza, and a bonfire. Such a gift to have fellowship with solid, delightful people who share our love for Christ.
I took my first trip away from P. and enjoyed the annual girlfriends camping trip at the lake. Despite my tan for the wedding, I burnt to a crisp from too much lounging in the lake!
A friend H. and I began Courageous Women, our monthly Bible study. The book has been incredible, the friendships inspiring, and the food quite tasty!
In the wake of doctor's appointments, new diagnoses, and discouragement about my fertility, we decided to take a month to refocus and reprioritize. October was a simple, carefree month all about our marriage. We even took a little getaway to Amish Country when my husband was scheduled for a few talks there. I was so excited for him to experience a historic Bed and Breakfast (although I think he mostly just enjoyed watching me get so excited about it all). I found so much peace and joy in this month of surrender to the Lord and gratitude for the gift of our marriage.
The day after Thanksgiving my thankful heart overflowed when I got a positive pregnancy test. Despite my deep gratitude, I soon learned this time around there would be a battle with fear and anxiety. I wanted to be excited and joyful but I struggled with detachment and fear that we would lose this little one, too. I so desperately wanted to trust God, but what did that even look like in this situation? I couldn't trust that everything would turn out like I wanted it to...but I realized I could trust who God is, that He loved and willed this child into being, and that He had a plan for it. If that plan was to join Him in Heaven right way or if that plan included us meeting and raising this little one, God's will be done. He is good and He loves us in either outcome.
My Advent continued my struggle with fear but I could see grace reaching in, God teaching patiently, and my heart learning slowly. We still don't know what will happen in the months ahead, but I'm learning to treasure every day I carry this child beneath my heart. I'm learning to trust like Mary in the uncertainty of life just as she trusted God in her pregnancy. And there is joy. So much joy.