Top 5 Takeaways from 2020…

So not to be redundant with… well, the WORLD

…but WOW!… What a year!!!

Once we made it to the end of the last school year, I needed a serious sabbatical! All of the humans in our house have processed the year differently… between working & studying virtually from home and trying to remain socially responsible in all our comings & goings, I don’t know about you, but I feel blessed just to be breathing in & out each day.

So because gratitude is important and does the mind & body good, these are my top 5 takeaways from 2020…

#5 Chalupas from Taco Bell!…

Did you know about these? I discovered them in December, but they totally made the list! First, it’s important for you to understand that I recently realized that I subconsciously attach some specific meal or culinary experience to most of my best memories… honeymoon, vacations, road trips… and this is no different. Chalupas transport me to growing up on the Pow Wow trail and looking forward to the fry bread deliciousness coming from the food vendors. If you have never had fry bread, it is similar to a carnival funnel cake. But Native American fry bread is SO much better and usually comes in a powdered sugar, fruit, chocolate or honey topped dessert option… or my favorite, the Indian Taco. Oh yeahhh… and the Chalupa is a pretty close second, if there are no Pow Wow food trucks to be found. Thank you, Taco Bell.

#4 Covid, You’re NOT the Boss of Me!

I’m not sure how your pre-Covid life played out each day, but mine was incredibly hectic and dappled with a lot of errands, to do lists, appointments… that led to a whole lot of exhaustion. When the Life-go-round came to a halt, and I woke up from a week long daze, and like most of the world I found myself gripped by fear-induced precautionary safety measures every time I stepped out of my house. I mean, there was a lot we didn’t understand at first, I’m diabetic, a tiny bit over 50, and well… I’m sure you get it. I had to make a choice… spiral into despair or put my big girl pants on. I decided to do what I could to help people who were more vulnerable than me for as long as I could… I didn’t know if that meant a month before I succumbed to the virus or never, but I knew I needed to be part of the solution. With the concern of pre-existing health risks prevalent in our family, thankfully, no one has tested positive for Covid.

#3 Purpose is Powerful

As I pondered how I could join the pandemic-fighting effort, I decided to tap into my creative skillset by making face masks. With one kid in college and 3 more enrolling in the Fall… yes, THREE high school seniors in our house this year!… I needed to figure out how to replace an old broken sewing machine & purchase materials. My sweet husband had gifted me with a beautiful bracelet on the previous Christmas, but the clasp had broken and needed to be replaced. Now I love the bling as much as the next girl, but my husband & I agreed that a refund on the bracelet could pay for a heavy duty Singer instead, and more importantly, could help save lives. That was a no brainer for me. Then we were able to use some of our stimulus check to purchase fabric, elastic, thread, ribbon… and so it began. To date, I have sewn over 600 face masks, donated most of them and intend to sew 400 more to meet my 1000 mask goal this year… insert high-five here! Even my amazing 88 year old father-in-law repaired a sewing machine he bought a few years ago at a yard sale to sew & donate about 500 face masks so far… and he is STILL cranking those things out! We are thankful for finding and being able to earn the resources necessary to help others in need.

#2 Forgiveness Feeds the Soul

We are a blended family of 6… my husband with his twins and me with my 2 daughters, which in and of itself brings a host of challenges to a home. My husband’s first wife passed away from breast cancer more than 10 years ago, and I endured a painful and difficult marriage that sadly ended in divorce… suffice it to say, the members of our family have all lived through some serious and life-altering traumas. Through mandated self-quarantines and lock-downs, while we have enjoyed spending more quality time together, we have certainly had our share of tension. It’s great when situations can be diffused with a good comedy on Netflix or a well-planned road trip… but then there are times, inside and outside of our home, that require forgiveness. It is almost always a process depending on how deep the injury or the wound may be, but it is so very necessary. Anger and resentment can be the worst kind of self torment that hold us captive and affect our health, our relationships and our life choices. When we allow ourselves to forgive, we not only stop the hatred from growing within us, we open ourselves to truly healing. Forgiveness is not saying ‘what you did is okay’, and doesn’t have to be accepted by the person who hurt you. In my experience, and particularly in the most serious cases, it is rarely a neat & tidy process tied up with a bow and a group hug at the end. When I forgive, either directly spoken to the person or by a decision I make privately, I am saying ‘I do not allow what you did to define how I feel or live anymore.’ And in the most severe and abusive situations, healing may require physical and sometimes permanent distance from the abuser. In fact, it’s important to say that if you or you know someone who may be encountering any kind of abuse, please find help yourself or through a friend, family member or pastor you trust to get you to a professional who can help you assess your situation and provide the protection and critical care needed. I am grateful for the daily strength and courage it sometimes requires to forgive those who have hurt me and the people I love.

#1 Life is Short… Pray Hard!

Despite learning about painful losses and health challenges over the past year from family and friends and experiencing some of our own, it didn’t take a pandemic for us to appreciate how unexpected life can be. Every day is an opportunity to choose how you walk through your circumstances. Some days it may take all that you have inside you to put some fresh clothes on & come out from under the covers. I have definitely been there multiple times… but I have also found that in the moments I have felt the most hopeless… and in some cases even breathless… when I cry out to God, He is always there. In fact, these are the times I have grown closest to Him, when I find a way to trust and rest in His loving embrace. I have learned that the meaning of life is not all about us. It is about all the choices we make in every situation and how it affects those around us. This can be as obvious as verbal or physical interactions and as seemingly insignificant as self care… taking a moment to pause with a cup of coffee and just breathe can entirely alter the direction of your day. We cannot and were never meant to do it all alone, even in the times when we feel most isolated or even abandoned. I know that pain all too well and have come to realize that true strength and fulfillment begin with a prayer. The prayer does not have to be formal or formulated… it’s simply a conversation from your heart to your Creator who adores You. Thank You, Lord, that in our weariness, You strengthen and sustain us when we choose to walk in Your way.

So as we say goodbye to 2020 and stand at the starting gate of 2021, I pray that you are blessed with health, vitality and a passion to bring light into the darkness… wherever that may be. God be with you & bring you restoration each morning to rise up & shine!