I don’t know about your year in review… but I will say that from the end of 2018 through 2019, our family experienced a lot of heartbreak and stress. I feel like the last 16 plus months have been trying for us. Social media can easily portray that life is perfect and those that surround us aren’t experiencing loss, pain, heartache, anxiety, fear, hopelessness… you name it! I feel like it is an important topic to talk about and be vulnerable about with the people in your life. You see, you can’t maintain perfection. You can’t always be what the earth wants you to be.

Here are the 19 things that I have learned (and am still learning) from 2019:

Life is short! We lost three amazing women in our lives since September 2018. Matriarchs that built our family and taught us many amazing things that shaped us into the people we are today.

You are not promised tomorrow, so do the little things today! Building off of my first life lesson- I know I am guilty for putting off things that don’t feel urgent in the moment. Oh how I wish I would have had more time with my loved ones. Made a couple more phone calls, sat with them and enjoyed their company a little bit longer.

Join a bible study. I did my first bible study in September of 2019 and the growth that I had over the past 4 months has be incredible. I can’t describe the clarity, the healing and the transformation that the bible can do for our soul.

Give Grace! As simple as that 5 letter word is- it is so complex and has the power to do amazing things. Give grace to those around you that may need it more than you know. Give grace to people who are in such a rush they cut you off while you are driving. Give grace to yourself, you are doing the best you can.

Less is more! I am rounding out 2019 with the realization that we ONE– have way to much stuff TWO– it causes a lot of stress and THREE– we don’t need it!! Purge, it does a mind good!!

I am a people pleaser. I have always known this about myself, however, I didn’t realize how hurt I got when I didn’t make people happy. Even deeper, how isolated I felt when I was left out. This is something that one of my bible studies– Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst helped me with this.

My children are so unique that the same parenting style that worked for Bella does not work for Novella and sure as heck doesn’t work for Deacon!! Take a deep breath and keep trying till you find what works. Also, parenting a 9th grade girl is equally as difficult and emotional as parenting a three year old wannabe T-REX. Sorry Bella! Last, even though your middle child is easier and super sweet- she needs your love and attention too!

Put the technology away and have good old fashion fun. I find so much joy when I play a board game, do a craft or read a book with my children.

Spend Cash! Cards are from the devil! Oh boy is this true. I have way less stress when I budget with my handy dandy cash envelopes then I do with a debit or credit card.

Find yourself a comfortable sweat outfit! When Justin and I started dating, he made a comment to me that he didn’t like the baggy sweatpants. I took it to heart I guess and for the past 13 years I haven’t owned 1 sweat-outfit!!! Let me tell you what, I bought myself one and I have never been so happy by a purchase in my life.

PRAY! We can’t control any of the outcomes in our life or the lives around us. We can look to God for guidance, work hard and then pray, pray, pray! His will, will be done!

Color match your foundation with a professional! This one makes me laugh. About twice a year I will change about 4 shades overnight and then I have an awful foundation line. I swear by going to Nordstrom and letting the lovely ladies color match me. I feel like a million dollars when I get that new shade!!

Plan your dream trip. I have mentioned many times that life is short. A couple years ago, we planned a dream trip to Walt Disney World at Christmas. My beautiful Mother-in-law and Father-in-law came with us. Let me tell you what, after she passed in December 2018– I realized even more so how special that week was. The memories we made are priceless. This year we have decided it is time to go do a Euro/Mediterranean family trip with over 30 of us. Cue the tour flags– we are going to need them!! Let me tell you what- YES the trip is expensive, YES we have a small village traveling together and YES it might get crazy, however, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Heres to many memories!!

Don’t buy a first year- new body style car. I can laugh at this one now… but I wasn’t laughing when I had my new Lexus RX350L that had clown seats as a third row and didn’t fit my family of 5!! Worst car decision of my life and a very stressful 6 months (yes we only lasted 6 months with that car!). Make sure you REALLY test out a new car before you pull the trigger… it will cost ya! Also- large SUV’s are magical. You need one with three kids.

Forgiveness. Jesus died on a cross to forgive us of our sins… we need to forgive others. Simple yet profound!

YouTube is awful for children. In my experience, my children become hypnotized by the toy videos and have awful behavior once you take it away. YouTube is indefinitely broken in our household!

Take the photo!! My mom always wants us to take pictures so we have memories. All of us say… “last one!!” and become frustrated. I just want to say… Thank you Mom!! I am glad you take the pictures that you do. PS I have also become my mother and annoy my children with pictures daily!

Don’t focus on material items. We can become instantly tempted to purchase things that we see on social. It’s ok to be content. You don’t always need something, instead use it as inspiration not motivation to whip out your credit card!

Watch what you say. Everything that comes out of your mouth (both positive and negative) effects the ones that surround you! Your children, spouse, family, friends… they are all effected and persuaded by what you say and how you act. Speak love, speak truth, show God’s love and give grace.

If 2019 gave you some lemons and you want to make something magical out of 2020- BE THE CHANGE you need. BE THE CHANGE your family needs. Evaluate your lessons, grow from your experiences and find the blessings in the mess… in the heartache. There are always blessings to be found. Clear your mind and prepare yourself not for perfection… that doesn’t exist. Instead pray for knowledge to learn from what you are about to experience and the clarity to see the blessings even in the storm.