Pearls & Vodka

How would you describe your 2017?

Hi friends! And goodbye 2017!

It’s been a little while since my last entry.

Life has been…hectic, to say the least.

But, my commitment to this space has never been stronger. And in my absence from the daily posting, I have been plotting and planning content for the new year and I can’t wait to kick off 2018 with you, the readers.

2017 has been a hard year for my sweet little family.

Don’t get me wrong, we have made some incredible friendships, forged some new paths and created some amazing memories to last a lifetime.

Financially though, this year has been the pits.

We moved to a resort town in the fall of 2016, there were pay-cuts involved, there were living expense increases, there were unexpected bills, there was child care.

Life happened.

“Many things are thrown our way in this game of life. It's how you deal with them that shows your true character. I want all of you to feel the hope, love & passion I feel for the upcoI share that not ashamed to admit that we struggled, but freed by admitting that we are like so many of you who have a roof over our heads that often we have no clue how we are going to pay for.

I share it not ashamed of the path we have walked because in the same breath I could share countless stories of how God has provided for us.

Y’all.

We have never gone without.

We may have come home to no lights at one point, but it just so happened to be pay day and we had them back on in a few short hours. We have been 24 hours from an eviction notice from our rental house to have unexpected checks show up in the mail. I have no words to fully explain everything that has happened over the past year.

There are only two words that I know to say, “but God.”

Our family is going through a transition period right now, hence a little delay in my posting, we are moving to Charlotte on Saturday morning.

This move was a bit unexpected, but completely a God thing. And in each moment that I have doubted or wondered if we were doing the right thing, He has continued to make His will so obvious for us.

I’ve literally prayed, “don’t let me get this job.” And not only have I gotten the job but it was for more than I was even hoping to get. I’ve prayed, “don’t let Arron get the job.” And he’s gotten the job. I’ve prayed, “don’t let us find a house.” And we haven’t found a house, we found my dream home, and it’s so much less than we pay today. I’ve prayed, “don’t let us find a workable childcare option for our son.” And one of the top five private, Christian schools in the state has opened a new classroom for his age group on the day he needs to start with one spot left and less than 10 miles from our new house. I’ve prayed, “don’t let us get out of our lease so we can’t afford to do this.” And we’ve gotten out of our lease without even really having to try. I’ve prayed, “don’t let us have friends there so we won’t want to move.” And we’ve got friends there from high school, from college, from Wilmington, and from adulthood.

So here we are 48 hours from moving our family.

Even with God making a way, when there really didn’t seem to be a way, with me kicking and screaming, we are on our way.

It’s exciting. It’s hard. It’s new.

Wilmington has been so hard for us financially, but so good for us relationally.

We’ve made incredible friends. Judd has had the very best childcare on the face of the planet with the world’s best nanny and an amazing morning preschool program.

As I was listening to my favorite podcast this morning, the girls at Pantsuit Politics went through Tsh Oxenreider’s 20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection.

I thought, what a fantastic way to conclude 2017 on Pearls & Vodka and make way for an exciting, 2018.

So here goes:

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Watching our son grow. I’m clearly not biased at all, but he’s just amazing. We’ve been so blessed that he’s had such amazing teachers at First Presbyterian that have helped him to learn and explore. And the cherry on top has been having his incredible nanny Michele this year. I can’t believe our time is winding down with her tomorrow, they have made the most amazing memories this year. She’s taken him everywhere. She’s taught him so much. He has grown leaps and bounds this year and in large part we have her to thank.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Money. Y’all, it really is the root of all evil. The necessary evil. We’ve tried and we’ve tried. We’ve fought and we’ve scraped. And here we are. We’ve made it to the other side, after a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of arguments, a lot of tears, a lot of fears and a lot of anxiety.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
This summer we had a student live with us for 6 weeks. One of our best friends called at the beginning of the summer an explained he had a student in the PA program he was a professor for that would be doing a rotation in Wilmington and she needed a place to live. We had plenty of room at our house and honestly, the little boost in funds sounded good so we agreed. And it turned out to be the best experience. Tori has become family and we miss her so much. Just saying, Tori, there’s a nonstop United flight from Houston to Charlotte right now for $211…no pressure or anything!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Money. Catch the theme of 2017 for us yet? When we moved out here I got a pay increase, but Arron took a pay cut to make my dreams come true. We really thought we could handle it. We thought it would all come out in the wash, so to speak. Well, it all came out in the wash for sure and every month we were petrified of how to make ends meet. We never expected this hurdle, but we look back now so thankful for God’s sustaining plan and amazing friends and family.

5. Pick three words to describe 2017.
hard, beautiful, stretching

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2017 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
stressful, fun, challenging

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2017 (again, without asking).
stressful, fun, long

8. What were the best books you read this year?
Gosh there have been a lot of good ones this year. But here’s a few: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, The Power by Naomi Alderman, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett, Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance, and Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
My sweet husband. Hard years can make or break some relationships. Every day, no matter how beautiful or how hard, has made me fall more in love with this man. The older I get the more I cherish my relationship with my mom. She’s my best friend. She cheers for me when no one else does. She hugs me when no one else is there. My tribe, as I call them, my college friends. 15 years and counting. We still take our girls trips, we still text all day, every day. We do life together and it is such an enriching thing. And our nanny. Having someone you can trust with your most precious gift, your child, there’s not a price tag you can put on that.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
Writing again. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always loved getting lost in words, whether reading or writing them. Being able to create this online space that I love and that I’m proud of has been amazing.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I’ve learned to use my words more wisely. I’ve learned that there is great value in the “pregnant pause” in tense conversations. I’ve learned that it’s important to always remember a person’s intent and heart in a conversation and not just what I am feeling in the moment.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus…” the old hymn has been in my mind a lot this year. I’ve learned that I can fight all day long but God’s ways are always better and His thoughts are always higher.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I had the amazing experience of working out with my friend Jaime Andrews this summer. I fell in love with rowing. I learned I’m a lot stronger than I thought. And I’ve found a motivation through our sessions for a healthier body than I’ve ever had before.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I learned a lot about accepting our differences. I’ve learned more about having “nuance” in life. I’ve learned to embrace the beauty of our uniqueness.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
At work, I made some great friends in my office in Wilmington. I enjoyed working on a long project overhauling our HR applicant system. At home, I’ve loved writing both on this blog and my book manuscript. I’ve also enjoyed helping a friend launch her new business, thread talk.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
I’ve learned how to cope with difficult coworkers. I’ve learned how to make time for the things that are important to me.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Worrying. The saying is true, worrying will never add a minute to our lives. But it sure can rob us of some!

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Enjoying my friends and family. Writing. Helping others. On the beach!

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
God will always make a way, even when there seems to be no way.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2017 for you.
Through it all, HE is still good and I am blessed.

I’m sure there are some of you out there who can relate to the year our family has had. Keep on keeping on! He will make a way. I know a lot of folks out there have a lot of anxiety about our country right now; our President has inspired a lot of worries, our Congress has spurred a lot of change and our culture seems volatile. I encourage you to prepare for this next year with an open mind and an open heart. We need more graceful conversations in 2018. We need more truth seeking and less hype.

Here’s to a prosperous and joyous 2018 to you all my friends.

From my family to yours, Happy New Years!

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Joey

    December 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    AMEN friend! Man, this year, huh? I’m so thankful for your honesty and transparency–I could have written the exact same words about our year financially. I’m so thankful your move to Charlotte has worked out despite all your prayers (when God wants you somewhere, You go!)! I’m already dreaming of Sunday dinners and summer night pot lucks by the pool!!

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