I am taking a little bit of a different approach to 2016 and goal setting and all of that. I have sat down so many times to write out goals and blog about it, but then I get discouraged and lost and frustrated. About what I didn't check off my list for 2015. About what I should have done better. About how I have no idea what is going on in 2016 and about how my lists always end up as "to-do's" instead of "goals with grace." Thanks to a wonderful goal setting series by Lara Casey, I was reminded that God's plans are the most important ones. What I plan for might all change, and that's ok! We have to give ourselves grace in the undone. If God started the work in our hearts, he will bring it to completion.
So instead of jumping right into goals on this first day of 2016, I am taking today to look back at all that was good in 2015.
1. I went on a date with my husband at least once a month for the whole year, and it was wonderful. The fruit that comes from putting time and love into your marriage is incredible, and our relationship has grown and changed so much in the last year. I am certain I have never loved my husband more than I do now, and I know that love is going to continue to grow.
2. I photographed my first two in home newborn sessions in January and February. They were life changing and life giving and all that I had dreamed they would be.
3. I spent a lot of mornings with Max, talking and eating breakfast while Drew slept.
4. I grew a sweet baby and loved the amazing things my body is capable of the whole way through it.
5. I got a lot closer to two of my already very close friends. So thankful for them and what they mean to me.
6. The boys and I went on a lot of play dates and spent a lot of afternoons at the park.
7. I travelled to Boone a lot to see the best midwives around. I thought the traveling part was going to be terrible, but it was actually sort of a breath of fresh air.
8. We found out our littlest babe would make boy number three and were thrilled beyond belief.
9. We celebrated Drew's second birthday and Max's fourth birthday, surrounded in our home by our nearest and dearest family and friends.
10. Nick and I FINALLY painted our bedroom and got a new bed.
11. The big boys got bunk beds!
12. I shot a wedding when I was 30 weeks pregnant with my husband as my sidekick and it was pretty great.
13. We went to Tweetsie. A lot.
14. We watched Max and Drew become best friends.
15. I had an amazing opportunity to shoot at the dance studio, and it was perfect. My two passions coming together for one thing? Yes.
16. I completed my first year as a dance teacher and watched all my sweet dancers from the wings as they showed what I had taught them over months of class. I love being a dance teacher.
17. Max played T-ball and loved it.
18. I learned a lot about essential oils and how amazing they can be for our family.
19. My dear friend Mandy gave birth to her sweet girl a little early, but Miss Lila was a fighter and went home to be with her family after only a short stay in the NICU.
20. I second shot a wedding at 37 weeks with a favorite of mine, Michelle Lyerly. I didn't know if I could do it...being that big and being in the mountains, hiking around in cow pastures for portraits. But I did it, and it was great.
21. Jake Kilby Brown was born in July after a pretty quick and pretty wonderful labor. This is the part where my Father in heaven showed me just how strong I am in him, when I give Him my everything. I used no pain medications, and it changed me as a momma. To each their own, but y'all, surrendering that birth to God and the fruit that came from it was just exactly what I needed.
22. I took maternity leave! Working for yourself is great, but it is so hard to make yourself take time off. But...I did it!
23. Max and Drew love Jake just as much as we do.
24. We settled right into being a family of five!
25. We were surrounded by love and meals, overwhelmed with how the people in our lives held us as we got used to having a new boy in our house.
26. My friend, Jane, had her littlest babe only 4 short days after Jake was born. Sharing pregnancy with her and Mandy was the best thing.
27. Then, Jane and her whole family moved here from Texas. So thankful to have her living just down the road from me!
28. Nick started working as the delivery manager in the spring!
29. We all went on a beach vacation in August, which was the perfect way to end my maternity leave.
30. My second year as a dance teacher started in September, and I have such wonderful students and coworkers, y'all.
31. Jake has been the best baby. So sweet and cuddly and happy.
32. We decided that one day we really want to have a farm. I want goats and chickens. Nick wants cows.
33. I got to second shoot for Michelle Lyerly again in the fall! She's great.
34. I learned the importance of saying "no" to some things.
35. I completed a month long photo a day project in November that I loved and that left me feeling full and inspired.
36. We got a Christmas tree and decorated our little house up as pretty as we could.
37. Max finished the first half of preschool. He's learned so much and we are super proud of that boy.
38. Max and Drew have turned into the most loving of big brothers to Jake, and ask to hold him constantly. They play with him all the time and try to teach him things.
39. I got to second shoot for my friend, Nicole (of Boonetown Story) in December. It was Kyle Petty's wedding, which was sort of crazy and amazing. I always love working with her!
40. Tucker and Chelsea came to visit for Christmas! The time we spent with them and with the rest of our family was just so special.
I didn't check off my goals from New Years 2015? That doesn't mean that God wasn't at work in our lives, and it doesn't mean that I didn't accomplish anything else at all. This makes me so excited to see what 2016 is going to bring our family and how I can walk next to God as He makes it happen where I fall short.
Part 2, coming soon!