I did not see this year coming.
The Lord allowed all kind of ups and downs in 2016 including
– an anxiety/depression diagnosis and healing
– a series of fantastic speaking opportunities **including checking off a bucket list item (visiting Maine), giving a parish mission with Andrew, and turning a 45-minute talk on simplicity into a 3 1/2 hour conversation with moms searching for peace.
– the launch of Andrew’s dream to work in video production
– a very real, very full revolution for the better in our marriage (see below)
– a NEW BABY due this May (we find out what it is next week!)
– a sudden decision to move from Louisiana to my mom/stepdad’s house in Nebraska
A rollercoaster – all of it. And though the posts here at TCW have been anything but consistent, your readership remained and your response was absolutely amazing. Here are the best and biggest hits of 2016.
Thank you for being here.
The hit count on this piece made it clear that what readers want is validation – to know the struggle is real and they’re not alone. And it was your reaction to this piece that let me know I wasn’t either. Opening up about my anxiety and depression led to interviews on both Fountains of Carrots and The Catholic Foodie Radio Show – it was an honor to help unearth what has typically been such a taboo conversation.
When we’re in the fog of anxiety/depression, it’s hard to see anything clearly, especially God’s hand at work. He sustains. He provides. In the few moments of clarity, looking back at “what God’s hand has wrought” (Psalm 143) has given me at least the knowledge that this too will pass, even if I don’t have it in me to brave the rest of the day.
No money for gifts. No time to go out. But after 8 years of marriage – so much of it spent building walls and breaking each other’s hearts – Andrew and I had the best anniversary ever. And it’s all because we decided to bare our whole hearts and experience real vulnerability.
At one point I thought we were resolved to simply tolerate each other until death did we part. While I knew we would live just fine and even peaceably, I was sure that we would do so devoid of real spiritual and emotional intimacy; that we would continue to hide our true selves. But this year of marriage brought something totally new and game changing.
I rarely talk homeschooling here, but like the anxiety post above, I mentioned struggle and you responded with solidarity. I’m at peace with the fact that my efforts won’t be perfect or yield perfect children and I’m grateful to have my little ones (aged 6, 5, 3, 2, and on-the-way) home with me.
Homeschooling feels too big and too important to place in my care.
But Moses had a stutter and he spoke.
Lazarus was dead and he rose.
Mary is a virgin and she had a Baby.
I’ve presented myself to God and said, “Impossible.”
And He says, “Not for Me.”
This year I celebrated my 30th birthday. With my 31st just on the horizon (the 8th of next month!), it was refreshing for me to re-read how Jesus prompted me to live. I spent 2 weeks performing acts of kindness for family, friends, and strangers, and I could not get over the transformation within my soul or the transformation of the day.
At a time when I usually delight in simple indulgences, presents, and wishes fulfilled, I’m at last getting a grip on what my life is really supposed to be: an imitation of Jesus’s generosity, mercy, and love; the last 30 years are a blur of milestones, but what infuses life with meaning is when you give it away.
If you have a fantastically detailed memory, you’ll recall this was on the Biggest Hits list from last year. Quite possibly one of the most important research articles I’ve ever written, this one covers how Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro) has blessed two families – one struggling with multiple miscarriages, the other with unexplained infertility – with miracles beyond expectation.
A highly successful health science that’s pro-woman, marriage and baby, with a mission to explain the unexplainable is here; an approach that looks at a full range of reproductive abnormalities not as problems on their own, but as indicators of underlying issues. “This isn’t just Catholic medicine,” Danielle Van Haute told me. “It’s just good medicine.”
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his mercy endures forever. (Psalm 107)
God bless your 2017! You are in my prayers.