At the beginning of last year, our pastor at church said he wanted this year to be a year of prayer. He said that we shouldn't be afraid to pray for big things or impossible things. We certainly prayed for some pretty big things in 2012 and have been graciously provided with bigger things than we could have prayed for. God worked on our hearts and in our lives in ways that we didn't think imaginable. I have never been able to say before that I am most definitely a different person at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year until now. Even in big years this one is different. In 2001 I graduated from High school, started at Texas A & M, faced 9/11 with the rest of the country, and met the man I would one day marry. In 2004 I got married, faced the death of my grandfather, and dealt with my parents divorcing. In both 2009 and 2011 we had beautiful daughters that are blessings beyond our wildest dreams. But nothing matches 2012. Throughout all of those years change has been slow and steady, change has been marked in little tweaks and adjustments, and for the most part I have felt much like the same person at the end of the year, just a little older and maybe a little wiser. This year I have felt like there was an old me and a new me, the old me left behind in May and the new me moving forward after that. It was painful and there was a lot of sadness and fear, but it was definitely transformative and altered me.
One of the big changes that I am glad we were able to see come to fruition was my staying at home again. It was difficult to work with MacKenzie and Keegan and knowing a little one would be on the way. I know there are Moms who do it and I give them all the respect that they deserve. It's not that I couldn't do it any longer, it's that Matt and I didn't want me to do it any longer. I wanted to be home with the kids, I wanted to play with them, I wanted to take them places, I wanted to have long lunch dates at Chick Fil A where I could talk with friends and they could run around and play in the play place, I wanted to run errands and go to Target for no reason at all with them, and to be honest, I wanted to sleep in and take naps a lot of times too! We are glad we were able to make this work for our family. We think the girls appreciate having me here and feel like Keegan shows less angst with having a more stable schedule. One thing that we were reflecting on recently is how good it felt to make that decision and give notice of my resignation before we knew about Raptor's diagnosis. We felt that it made us more in control of a decision and that it was made independently of what we know now. Because truth be told, I couldn't have returned to work right now, he has too many needs that would make me a bad teacher (more on that in a different post).
Another great aspect of this year has been Matt's school progress. He has plowed through half of his coursework and will be done with his MBA at this time next year. It has been challenging at times for him to balance school and work, but we know that it is just a season, and he and our family will be all the better for it in the end. It has meant that he is away from myself and the kids at least twice a week for class. It has meant that he has had to pass on us doing things or social events so he could study. It has meant lots of lost sleep over projects and other school related tasks. He is excelling at it though...it has been fun to watch him work hard for grades and to achieve them in his classes. He says he likes to feel his brain working again despite how tired that can make him!
Additionally, after much patience, prayer, interviewing, and waiting, Matt has a new job! He has an awesome job actually and it has filled two functions in our life of increasing our income (which is obviously welcome, especially with me staying at home) and of really fitting what Matt is good at and likes to do. Matt is working for a commercial insurance brokerage downtown and after he gets through some training will be meeting with potential clients and businesses to try and fit their needs for different types of insurance. Matt is really good and determining what people are looking for and making them feel like they got the best possible product for their business so I know he will enjoy his work and being directly compensated for it as well. He will definitely miss some of his clients at Chase, but many of them were glad he is moving up in the corporate world and felt like he was grossly overqualified for the position he held with them anyways.
Of course the biggest change in our lives this year was Johnny. We were looking to expand our family at the beginning of 2012 and were delighted in March to find out that Baby Raptor was on his or her way. Everything had gone textbook with MacKenzie and Keegan and we fully expected it to be that way with Raptor. It certainly didn't go that way after week 12. It's hard to say which day was more difficult in 2012, the day we found out it was a possibility, the day we found out for sure, or somewhere in between. It wasn't knowledge that we had ever seen ourselves preparing for. There is still so much in my mind that I am working through in dealing with thoughts about Johnny and how he has impacted our lives. There has been so much growth and change in our hearts in learning about Johnny that we never could have expected to receive this year. Everyone thinks that a baby turns their lives upside down, but Johnny turned our lives upside down, inside out, and threw us backwards and forwards a little bit too. I have so much more that I want to say about Johnny and where we are now, but it is easy to see that he has changed the face of 2012 to be a very different year from what we thought it would be.
I don't know what to think about 2012 being over and moving into 2013. I could say that I hope for a bit calmer of a year, but despite all the turmoil and upheaval in our lives, we are in a really good place. We are really happy with where we are. I feel like I should say something really profound to close this post out, but I don't really have anything that doesn't sound grossly cliche. So....We will just leave it at Happy New Year!