This morning I sat in a room full of our friends as we went around the room sharing about our year in review. As many may know, Seth and I help lead a small church. In 2013 it was just a room full of strangers but now a group that is so knit together. It makes my heart burst for moments like this morning as we sat and listened to the reflection of each couple for twenty-seventeen. The honest hills and valleys of life. The raw and the real. Sometimes you really need that as social media just stirs around squares of false impressions. Last night we had a heads up that this was on the agenda for this morning. I sat and thought about it last night and as we drove to church this morning. I’ve now had a full twenty-four hours to reflect on twenty-seventeen.

Oh what a year, I write this blog more for myself in times, but also for anyone that follows to be honest and give you a peek into my life. It’s been awhile. I intended to be super good at blogging when Jack was born. I wanted this space to be filled with memories and moments that I would never forget. Instead my dropbox is full of pictures and my phone half the time cannot take anymore pictures. Maybe this next year will bring more memories and blog posts. I think the hardest part is that I want to be authentic but when it really boils down to it my child is absolutely adorable but I feel like our day to day life is sometimes, well, boring from the outsider looking in. To be honest that boy makes me exhausted so it can’t be that boring…but I think you get what I mean. (today we colored, today Jack said no for the first time, today we…I think you got it)

So I’m diving in and spilling out my year. As I sat and reflected on this year it makes me smile and makes me tear up all at once. I think that is normal for any one of us. Sometimes we look at next year as “a fresh start”. It’s true. I’ve given myself things to work on, things that are realistic. But when I sat in reflection twenty-seventeen was definitely bittersweet.

In January we were full into a new year. We had taken our dogs to the vet and dropped a load of cash on the visit, shots, and we had noticed that Mia kept licking her paw in one particular spot. We were given meds and told it should clear up. Well, it didn’t. She wouldn’t stop licking it and after a few weeks I remembered we still had her cone from when she was fixed a few years back. I plopped it on her thinking our problems were solved. The next morning was Jack’s final day of being eleven months. January thirtieth. Any parent knows this is the day that you somewhat dread. It’s the day that your baby is not yet one but yet you know in the morning you will have a toddler. Well, if my husband would tell you – I dreaded this day. Well, we woke up on January thirtieth and Mia’s leg was oozing and looked horrible. They asked that we would bring her into the vet to get looked at. We all loaded up into our vehicles and to the vet we went. After a quick look we were told that our Mia girl had a tumor they believed. It took everything in that moment for me not to burst into tears. But the moment I went out to my car I completely lost it. My Mia girl, she is only three. I drove home as Seth headed to coach soccer. I drove through my tears as I looked at her in the backseat with Jack. Our only option we were told was to take her to Purdue to which even to get any tests done would be dropping a grand right off the bat then followed with more money and just going down a loop hole.

Also on January thirtieth my baby slept through the night for the first time * in seven months. (may I add he has ever since) As I tucked him into bed I prayed over him teary eyed in thankfulness in the perfect gift God has given me. What a complete joy to parent my sweet boy. I wrote a whole blog post about it, too. Somehow upon uploading pictures…it crashed and I never saw it again. (my husband builds and codes websites for a living – and I am so not techy…probably why I haven’t blogged since, ha)

We celebrated my Jack’s first birthday with Olive Garden and letting him walk the aisle of Target and pick out a gift. We didn’t go over the top with gifts and only got him two smaller things. But I knew I wanted to give him a big first LumberJACK Birthday party! We celebrated our sweet one year old with our families on Seth’s 26th Birthday.

In January we were also fortune enough to pay off Seth’s student loans to IWU. In February on Valentine’s Day we bought our first vehicle and we sold my high school grand prix. My first car. My parents bought me that car the very end of my junior year of high school. It took us on many dates, was our drive away car from our wedding and brought our baby boy home. It was a little bittersweet as it was the last place I told our dogs goodbye as I picked them up and placed them on the passenger seat too.

In March Seth and I became an aunt and uncle to Seth’s sister’s baby girl, Emmalyn. I don’t know if I was even as anxious about Jack’s arrival as I was that day my sister was induced. I rearranged my living room at least three times that morning as we waited with anticipation. I about gave up around eight that evening. But after a quick and safe delivery she was born. We rushed to the hospital and stayed until early morning spending time with that family of three. Because we are about as close and tight knit as they come and I am so very thankful for Seth’s sister and her husband. But Emma is quite the gift and being her aunt is quite the honor. I remember the days that I sat in tears and prayed for that sweet girl. She’s a miracle and I’m so blessed to be her aunt Jillie (as I was recently told).

A few weeks later in March we found out Mia had cancer after taking her to a different vet. It came to no surprise as we watched her health decline and the cancer spread through her body. She was in good spirits and we knew we would love her until her very last day.

In April we traveled to Destin, Florida. It’s our family tradition during spring break. Jack hated the sand but loved the pool. It was a great relaxing vacation and it was much needed. We knew on our last day in Florida that Mia wasn’t doing well. Our sweet friends went over the moon and back taking care of her and Beckham. We drove home knowing she was just waiting for us.

I type this next part with tears flooding my eyes. On April 12 we told Mia goodbye. It was one of the hardest days I’ve been through. I cried days, weeks and months leading up to it. Until you go through the loss of a pet you have no idea the amount of guilt and pain that you even place on yourself. We spent the morning loving on our girl and taking pictures. We sat in the sun and we cuddled on her favorite chair until it was time to say goodbye. Seth came home with her pink collar and leash and we just held each other in the front lawn and cried. My dad ironically bought a huge stuffed bulldog in Florida the week before because Jack was attached to it. Seth said if he has the same reaction three times then we will buy it. We saw the dog at two different stores and went back the third time, same reaction. We named him Walter. Walter now proudly wears Mia’s pink collar and Jack carries it everywhere.

Beckham was lost without Mia. But in the same time Mia’s health declined and when she stopped eating he did too. We thought it was just ironic and that he was grieving in his own way. We bought him new food but he only would eat people food. It was Easter weekend so that next Monday, 5 days after we had told Mia goodbye we took Beckham to the vet. The vet looked at Seth and told him she was so sorry but she felt a mass in his stomach. She wanted to run some more tests. Seth came home without him and the horrible news. The shock that filled us just left me without tears. At that point I don’t think I could cry anymore. The vet called and Beckham had internal bleeding. She believed it was in his spleen and she called around and found a vet that would do surgery that day for ….”cheap”. Beckham was our baby. We bought him even before we were engaged and we shared him between our parents’ homes when Seth was in college and I worked at the salon. We knew we would do “anything” at this point since we weren’t able to cure Mia’s cancer. Seth dropped him off to the new vet and we waited for a phone call that is surgery was done. We didn’t get the call until the next morning that after his blood work he in fact that cancer also, therefore they didn’t even perform surgery. He still had internal bleeding. Seth went and picked him up and we loved him until his last day. On April twentieth we said goodbye to our sweet Beckham. We knew it was time. I put him in the front seat of the grand prix and I text everyone asking them to pray for Seth. I knew deep down our sweet Beckham wouldn’t even make it to the vet. He didn’t. He passed away on the passenger seat as Seth was driving down the road. To say I miss those crazy dogs is a complete understatement. I could cry everyday missing them if I let myself. I’m still grieving hard some days and I know time will heal me. They were my babies. We had them cremated as my way of feeling like I would gain some peace. Beckham’s collar never returned home with his ashes. Their nose prints still fill the bottoms of my three front windows of our bedroom. It’s one thing that I can’t get myself to wipe away.

The summer came and we enjoyed every second of the outdoors. Jack’s hair just kept turning more blonde and we were sun kissed for sure. We walked and played outside every single day the sun was shining. We traveled to Ohio for a family of three get away to the Columbus zoo and waterpark. We visited a lot of zoos and Lake Michigan a few times. We took trips to target and had meltdowns. Ran more water through our sprinkler than we probably used to shower. Attended weddings. Spent time with friends and hosted many friends. In June we celebrated 12 years of being together and in July 4 years married.

In July Seth’s grandpa passed away. It was his first grandparent for him to lose. I remember the first time I ever met his grandpa I knew what Seth would look like years down the road.

This fall Seth coached his fifth year of soccer at NorthWood. Jack and I survived. Those are long days as any coaches wife knows. I grew up my whole life with my dad coaching football in the fall and track in the spring. I don’t think I ever realized how much of a super woman my mom is. We savored those one or two weekends with no games and the handful of days without practice. It’s my one thing I told Seth he can’t never quit unless he wants to. I get to stay at home every single day and he works so hard for us so I can do that, it’s the least I can do. But that doesn’t mean I won’t complain a day or two during soccer season about how bad I want to eat dinner together – let’s be real.

A few weeks ago my baby brother got married. I was honored to be able to plan and help set up their wedding. Many don’t know but I enjoy event planning so much. I contemplated going to college for event planning but decided on beauty school instead. It was a beautiful wedding and all three of us were in the wedding. Jack was on the dance floor the whole time and stole the show. He at one point went up to my brother when he was reading his vows. I was mortified and I’m sure everyone found humor in Seth and I making eyes at each other during the ceremony as we were both standing upfront also. As I looked at Seth and said “get him!” and he looks at me “right now!?”. Come to find out everyone found it hilarious and sweet, including my brother and sister-in-law.

Thanksgiving weekend we cut down our tree and started our Christmas traditions. We can’t wait for Christmas this year, as Jack will be full force into opening gifts. He is talking so much and absolutely so much fun. I’m not a huge Santa fan so I am trying to find way around it with an advent calendar. It’s now December third and I have yet to plan it all out. But we do know delivering cookies is on our to do list!

But as I reflect back on twenty-seventeen I have to remind myself that God gets all the glory. I am blessed far more than what I deserve. My pain and my grieving is so small compared to others. I get to kiss my precious baby boy every single day. I will never take these moments for granted. And I pray that I never do. Every day goes faster it feels and this year has gone even faster. I wish I could slow time down just like any other parent.

For twenty-eighteen I’m praying that I can learn to be still. I put more into my day than I need to. I clean more than my house needs most times and my baby is growing faster than I would like him too. Jack and I actually clean together, do laundry, and cook a lot. His future wife will definitely be thanking me. But in those moments I’m praying I can find time to be still. Being still during naps and even in the moments just with him. These are the years I am going to look back on very soon and miss. Finding more time to dig deeper into my bible and get into more studies.

I’ve also been cleaning out my house like you’d think we were moving across the country. (be on the look out as I start selling stuff) Totes and cabinets are being gone through and I’m getting rid of everything single thing that I don’t use or that I’ve held on to just incase. I’ve owned a cheese grater for almost five years and always buy shredded cheese. And don’t tell me that I should keep it just incase there is a huge sale on a block of cheese in two years. I’m ready to simplify. My friends are rolling I know because I am not a hoarder and I am a complete clean freak. When it comes down to it – I reorganize my organization. But this time I am weeding out those things that I don’t need. I’m simply keeping things that bring me joy. And this is freeing me of the stuff that is keeping me from being still when it comes down to it. I’m also addicted to Emily Ley and her new book A Simplified Life. I tell my friends she is my best friend but she just doesn’t know it. I also just finished A Magnolia Story tonight and to be honest it prompted me to write this all out. If you haven’t read it, you will be laughing with tear filled eyes and also crying. God is good and just reading that book left my jaw on the floor as I flipped through the pages. Especially those last few chapters. Jojo will give you a little of her own tough love to simplify parenthood. She shares her ideas of soaking in and enjoying these sweet seasons instead of worrying about the mess around you. And simplifying Birthdays, and I am so guilty of this as I am starting to plan Jack’s second birthday party. It’s all really for me and not for him. It made me step back a little bit and ask myself, being the planner I am, what is really important.

So as a wrap up… you’ve made it this far, congratulations! As my good friend Z would say, you’ll be here a while when you read my blog. If you’ve made it through to the end…be sure and let me know in a comment in some-way shape or form!

This year I pray for my body to rest and be still – that my moment of being still isn’t falling into my bed at night until I hear my alarm the next morning. I pray that my anxiety continues to be healed. It’s something that I don’t slap out there often but God has been healing me and it’s been a very long time since I have been anxious and sick for a long period of time. And I know the enemy feeds on me writing that out and sharing. I pray that in the moments of motherhood that I can be a better friend. Motherhood is hard to balance as I am pouring my life into a toddler that never sits still. I’m spending my days raising him to become a gentleman but feeling like a failure of a friend. Ever read that blog someone wrote on this – it’s so true. Every single word. I’m praying that I’m more intentional with friendships and that I can be that better friend. There are times when I have to ask Seth if I am even being a good wife and what I can do better. I’m praying that this next year, like always, the good out-weighs the bad and that I can sit here in a year knowing that I serve an amazing God that has blessed me with far more than I will ever deserve in this lifetime, yet again.

So here’s to twenty-eighteen on the eve of December fourth. In this next year I hope it brings you health and simplicity, too. I pray you find moments to slow down and be still. Be honest to yourself. To not feel eager to impress others. Find moments to reflect these next few days of December on this year that God gave you. He may have taken you through the hills and valleys but it’s ultimately apart of His purpose and plan for His Kingdom. God is good. All the time.

4 thoughts on “Twenty-Seventeen

  1. Oh Jillian. I love to read the words you write. I know they come straight from your tender heart. This blog has also made me reflect on my own life. Be still and listen. Please know I love you all and wish nothing but the best for you. Merry Christmas.
    Aunt Karla

  2. I enjoyed your blog Jillian! Thanks for sharing. Your story about your brother’s wedding cracks me up. What a good memory to add to such a special day. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking myself on what I want to give up and change next year as we get ready to welcome our little one in May. Finding margin in my days and learning to say no are things I certainly want to do more of. I will say I had all intention to journal and take pictures throughout my pregnancy and have done, maybe, 3 journal entries. So I can relate. I’m hoping once I get a baby book, I’ll be more intentional about taking time to document things. A friend of mine shared with a while ago that she would write letters each night to her kids in a notebook about memories form the day, hopes, dreams, prayers, thoughts and advice to her kids. I thought that was such a neat idea! That’s one thing I hope to start to once our child is born. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

    1. Awe Mandy!! Congrats!! Yes, you never want to forget anything! Seth and I have a notebook that sits out that we write down funny things and things we want to remember.

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