2017 was hard. Not bad, but hard.
I often wanted to come back to this space and offer my words, but most days I didn’t feel that I had good words to offer.
Today, I’ll use my words to reflect on 2017 and the hardships, lessons, and joys that it brought.
January brought my first public speaking opportunity in eight years. I spoke at a local church on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday on behalf of Pregnancy Support Services. I was nervous and fearful, but it left me energized and excited to do it again. I had another chance to speak a few months later and although this season doesn’t allow for a plethora of these opportunities, I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve been given this year.
My college roommate moved to North Carolina this year and in March, we saw each other for the first time in five years. A week later, we traveled to Florida to celebrate the wedding of my other college roommate.
We made soil blocks for the first time in April and experienced both success and failure. Each year that we’ve sown a garden, we’ve grown as much as the plants through lessons learned. We have much left to learn and look forward to each year that we can put seeds in the ground.
Chris and I celebrated five years of marriage in May.
June saw 15 new chicks added to our flock. We are now collecting about a dozen eggs a day. Chris processed two of our older hens in October for stewing and broth. He took the opportunity to explain to the girls how these birds were given to us by God and how they’ve laid eggs for us and now it’s time for them to provide us with meat and broth. He told them how we kill them in a way that honors them. I’m so thankful for these real life experiences that shape their worldview (and continue to mold mine).
I’m now the mama of a three year old, a one year old, and a 21 week old (in the womb). We found out we were pregnant on August 30th. On September 2nd, I had a Supraventricular Tachycardia episode (heart rate of 240 BPM) that landed me in the emergency room.
My plans for a home birth slipped right through my fingers just three days after a positive pregnancy test. Two months later, after an echocardiogram and wearing a heart monitor for two weeks, the cardiologist cleared me to deliver at the birth center where I had my first two babies.
I experienced a wide range of emotions during those two months, but ultimately, I was thankful for a good report and the opportunity to have my baby at a familiar place with familiar faces.
On September 16th, we tragically lost our Great Pyrenees, Samwise. He was only 10 months old, but he was part of our family and had been a faithful protector of our chickens. Although the girls didn’t fully understand, they witnessed Chris and I mourn the loss and they often say, “I miss Sam.”
A few days after the accident, we received a card in the mail and a check to cover the cost of a new Great Pyrenees. We were speechless, humbled, and grateful. The following weekend we welcomed Scout into our family.
November brought our first Thanksgiving without my great-grandmother. It was bittersweet as we broke bread in her home one last time and honored her memory by sharing stories of her and Grandpa Talley.
Motherhood is paradoxical in the way that it can make you feel a deep loneliness and create opportunities for friendships that might not otherwise exist at the same time.
A dear friend moved away this year. First trimester sickness and fatigue pulled us away from our small group.
In the meantime, I began co-leading a Bible study small group at our church where I met some precious ladies and friends.
I also entered into a discipleship relationship with a lady from our church. Without knowing each other, we began meeting weekly and discovered common interests in farming and homeschooling. Her experience and wealth of knowledge and resources has been invaluable to me in this season.
I often feel at a loss when it comes to staying home with the girls and creating a rhythm for our days. Through Instagram, I became more acquainted with a group called Wild + Free.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “All good things are wild and free.”
This quote is the inspiration for the Wild + Free community because it depicts an emerging group of mothers and homeschoolers who want their children to not only receive a quality education, but also to experience the adventure, freedom, and wonder of childhood.
The Wild + Free monthly bundles have given me a starting point for what I want my days to look like with the girls as we embark on this homeschool journey.
In November, we had the opportunity to go to a Harvest and Vision Gathering in Lynchburg, Virginia to hear as Ben and Ainsley Arment shared their dream of a Farm Village where homeschool families can attend conferences, camps, and retreats. I was deeply moved and encouraged by their vision and commitment. (If you are interested in learning more about the Farm Village, please check it out here and consider making a donation.)
As I reflect on 2017, we experienced a lot of hard days, but hard meant learning to trust God more, so I guess hard really means good.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.