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I didn’t do any kind of a “looking back on 2014” post this year, either here or on my other blog. After 2013, which was full of all kinds of new things – moving to New England, Carl starting seminary, me publishing my first novel, homeschooling both girls in earnest, my mom getting her Master’s degree, my niece being born, my grandfather dying – 2014 seemed pretty tame. I didn’t publish my second novel, despite my best intentions (which actually turned out to be a good thing, because I learned a lot about the value of working slowly, and letting books simmer, rather than churning them out as quickly as possible). The girls continued in school, without anything thrilling happening. Carl’s second year of seminary went well, but again, without anything making it stand out. Nobody else died, thank God, and no other births in the family. My dad had horrible health problems in the winter/spring, and I was woken up at 3:00 in the morning once with a phone call from my sister saying they were taking him to the ER, and he was in and out of the hospital quite a bit after that before they got the problem settled. So I suppose that was memorable, but honestly, I’d rather forgot that period of intense stress, fear, and not-being-able-to-be-home-to-help.

There were some good things that stand out: Joy discovering her intense love for and connection with dance, and her incredible natural affinity for music. Our homeschool group started this fall, which has had its ups and downs, but overall has been a good thing. Our discovery of Gracie’s natural designing/building talent, and the delight of watching her imagination blossom and develop. Our many, many trips to the beach this summer. The kids attending a VBS for the first time, and loving it. Me getting to be a better driver (errr … let’s just forget about the light pole incident, shall we?). Camping with my dad’s family, and getting to know some of my younger cousins as adults. My sewing ability growing. Hiking up a mountain this fall, and both girls almost being able to keep up. Lots and lots of laughter together as a family.

Some not-so-good things also color it: promising friendships fizzling out, over and over again. Intense loneliness, in the place that promised community and fellowship. Another failed relationship with another local church, prompting us to question what it is about us that makes us incapable of truly becoming part of a body of believers. My sister’s marriage disintegrating, causing my parents’ general emotional and physical health to deteriorate as well. Struggles with living in such a small space, and being surrounded on all sides by noise of other people’s lives. Joy’s progress with controlling her High Sensitivities turning to regression, and then stagnating for no apparent reason. General exhaustion and worn-down-ness.

It’s not been a bad year, not by any stretch of the imagination. But neither, frankly, has it been a great year. It’s just … been. Which is fine. Not every year has to be a mountain peak, just like not every year (thankfully) is a deep valley. You have to have some years that just are.

I hope for less discouragement in 2015. I hope for more growth, from all of us. I hope for better time management on my account (this is my only New Year’s goal). More patience and kindness toward each other. As much, and more, laughter and beach trips and hikes. (I’m picking up my cross-country skis from my parents’ house next week, so I’m also hoping for some skiing this year!) I hope Gracie learns to read, and that Joy settles into her schooling better. I hope I am less wracked with doubts about homeschooling, and am able to proceed with confidence, instead of questioning every day whether I should keep them at home or send them to public school.

I hope for more writing on my part, and less time frittered. I hope to continue with sewing, and to pick up some knitting this winter as well. I hope to read more deeply and joyously, instead of quickly, shallowly, and with desperation to distract my brain. I hope for deeper communion with God. I hope we are able to settle our troubles with church. I hope for continued dance and music, and more of both.

I hope for friendships, for all four of us. I hope for the strain in our hall to be settled.

I hope for joy, and love, and laughter, and snuggles, and glorious surprises, and tears that lead to growth, and delight in where we are right now.

This is my hope for 2015.