Birthday, Reflection


Somehow, another birthday has come and gone, and boy, what a year it’s been! I like to do a reflective post around each birthday to look back on the year that’s just passed and to dream and plan and try to anticipate the year ahead. I’m a little late in getting this post out (my birthday was almost a week ago) because I’ve been going out of my comfort zone and doing things like entering a local business pitch competition, which then led to me making it into the finals at the state business pitch competition earlier this week. Both competitions led to a lot of personal and business growth, as well as gave us some award money to continue on growing our flower farm.

And you know, if I had to pick a “theme” for the last 12 months, it would definitely be “personal growth through being pushed way out of my comfort zone.”

I mean, this last year has been NUTS for our family. I found out on my 36th birthday that I was pregnant with our fourth and final baby, Naomi, who then ended up coming six weeks early in April and needed to spend six weeks in the NICU. We had no idea of her Down syndrome diagnosis until she was born, and it was an interesting process as I went through coming to terms with her diagnosis and the modified expectations it gave me for my own life, and possibly for hers.

Honestly, I always had a lot of fear around having a child with special needs, partly because I didn’t feel like I could be “good enough” as a parent to take on that kind of challenge. But now that we have Naomi, it has reframed my thinking in so many ways. She has brought me so much joy, and she has made me think again about the value of each life, and how that is different than what we are often taught to think. I mean, I think so much of the time we think that “success” or having a “valuable life” means that we gain a certain amount of visibility or hit a certain earning point in our careers or reach certain arbitrary goals we’ve set for ourselves in things like fitness or intelligence or how our house looks. And don’t get me wrong, I obviously LOVE setting goals and think that it’s so important for our own self growth!

But I guess what I’m saying is that Naomi is teaching me that my worth doesn’t come from any of that. Of course, I already “knew” that, but now I’ve definitely internalized it a lot more, if that makes sense. Having her in our family has also meant we’re much more aware of ALL the people in a room, including the ones who are different, who I might have been afraid to approach before because I didn’t know the “right” way.

And now, I know the answer — the “right” way to approach ANY person is simply with love. With acceptance for how they come, and who they are. And to think a lot less about what THEY think of ME, but to just see THEM for who THEY are.

I’m still working on it.

But I feel like I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in my ability to connect on a deeper level with everybody because of Naomi.

And then in August, my husband Matt lost his job of ten years very, very unexpectedly.

I could see quickly that if we didn’t take immediate steps to be on a good course spiritually and emotionally, it could quickly become a situation that could breed resentment and anger and bitterness. We both saw that, actually.

So we both chose to forgive, to move on, and to extend grace for decisions that we didn’t agree with. I’m not saying we’ve always been perfect about it, but we’ve definitely been intentional with how we’ve chosen to handle the situation because we both considered the question, “What’s the kind of inner character we want to develop? Are we acting in accordance with what our very deepest beliefs and faith are?”

Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Sometimes we need divine help in order to be able to extend it completely, but it allows us to MOVE ON. And thankfully, with a LOT of divine help in that direction, we have been able to move on pretty quickly from a situation that could have gone the other way very easily.

And now, while we wade through unemployment and the flower farm growing and what our options are looking like for the future, we largely feel excited and a sense of peace. We have chosen to put all of it in God’s hands, because we saw SO CLEARLY earlier this year when we were in the NICU His hand in EVERYTHING. We believe in a God of miracles, and we trust fully that He will continue to work miracles in our lives in order to help shape us into the people He wants us to become.

So there you go. That’s where I stand going into this next year — ready and willing to jump in with both feet to whatever direction we feel inspired to go, and living our family motto to the fullest I can: “Onward and upward, with hands wide open.”

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