Dear friends and family,We didn’t send you a card in 2015 because that was our worst year: a car accident, a few instances of missed meals in order to ration what we did have in the fridge for our children, a chronically asthmatic child and a lot of rejections for freelance work.When we compare 2016 to last year, it is night and day. We were in dark times last year, but this year feels like an upswing.We still live frugally, measuring every purchase. We still struggle with our work and our health. But this year lent itself to adventure for me in a way I couldn’t have foreseen.I went camping for the first time for a two-day getaway, and did I have the time of my life! I returned home with a nostalgia, a sweet longing for preparing meals over an outdoor stove, washing dishes from a spigot two feet off the ground, sleeping on a cozy air mattress among my children. I even missed the piercing call of the peafowl native to the campsite. As I unpacked our dishes and dirty laundry, I realized that our time camping had been suddenly relegated to a delightful memory.That was enough to remind me that everything would be all right — that if our lifestyle ever became severely minimalist, we would all still be content, and we would have fun to boot. Whenever grace presents itself, it is as cold water to a thirsty soul. And more grace abounds when I see my arthritic mother muster all her energy to find some time to invite us for lunch or watch the children while I run to an appointment. Grace abounds when our neighbors give our children a set of toothbrushes and toothpaste that will last them for several months.My daughter draws the face of her Papi with chin stubble on the whiteboard. My adolescent son manages to break his teeth at rough play. My middle son continues to negotiate between playing with action figures or braving basketball on his own without his brother leading the way. Together, the three of them are the creative force behind spontaneous plans, comedy and poetics around the dinner table.I managed to get published more times this year than ever: stories, essays, blog contributions, op-eds. We are going to have victory over our failures, and we’re going to return to the fold of our church family more intentionally.The best part of this trying year is that we’re relying more profoundly on our faith. Our family has been more blessed than people may presume. Many times we’ve had to live by faith alone when friends come and go, when the last bill leaves our wallets, when the food is low and the doubts are high. It was our faith that gave us assurance about those uncertainties in life that one moment appear insurmountable — and then victory comes in the morning, and by nightfall we can’t remember what we were fretting all about.In the midst of our biggest fears, we know we are not forsaken. We take one look at our children and see their happy faces, their sweet spirits and their gratitude. And that is enough to say, we are doing all right.
December 23, 2016 at 1:24 PM EST