I didn't get to write last week because I was out of town visiting family and friends in Ohio and Wisconsin! Honestly, every moment was so packed (mostly thanks to Salem and my nephew's shenanigans) that I wouldn't have been able to write if I tried, and plus, I don't get to see them often so I wanted to soak up time with them. I also somehow turned 26 last week. Since I'm a pretty sentimental person and I like reflecting on the past, I thought I'd write a little bit about all that went on in the past year for me because it was kind of a big year. So many changes happened within me and around me, and since I didn't blog through it then, it would be fun for me to do it now.

First, we spent a big chunk of the year living in Sacramento, California. Honestly, I loved living in Sac. It might even be my favorite city that I've lived in so far, which some people find surprising because it's not a city you hear about all the time, like Boston or Austin. Sacramento had such beautiful weather, is close to lots of fun places for day or weekend trips, like Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and the Redwoods in northern CA. We actually didn't get to do a lot of those things because Brian had to work all the time, but we did get to do a few things which was a lot of fun. But the thing I'll remember most is taking Salem, and later Judah, to our neighborhood playground every single day. Seriously, we kinda lived there. We met so many friends and neighbors there and we made so many friends that I miss a lot. It was so easy to get to know our neighbors because everyone hung out at the playground! I loved that about where we lived.

Along with moving from Sacramento, Brian graduated from his forensic psychiatry fellowship, which was the last graduation he'll ever have! After 13 years of education beyond high school, he's finally DONE which has been a game changer for our family. Residency and fellowship demand a lot of work hours, like 60-100/week which put a huge strain on us. I wouldn't say that Brian's hours are ideal right now, but it's a huge improvement from what we're used to, and he has the freedom to work less, whereas he didn't before. I plan to write more in the future about thriving in intense work seasons and what I learned from it because it was really painful at the time for me, and I hope God uses what I went through to bring hope to someone else.
I was hugely pregnant with Judah. I also had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy which was a huge stab at my pride as a healthy eater and vegan. Having a temporary disease that I couldn't control was just super humbling for me and reminded me that my body is God's and as much as I try to live healthy, He's ultimately in control of it and is caring for it. That experience also woke me up to the immediate impact of food on our bodies. Mostly when I think about eating healthy, I think about the long term benefits that I'll reap when I'm older, but eating healthy actually effects your body moments after you swallow your food. If I ate a small cup of salad with my meal, my blood sugar would remain stable. But if I didn't, my blood sugar would get too high and remain elevated for longer. I wish I could say that since then I always eat a salad with my meals and I never eat refined carbohydrates but that would be a lie. I've made some progress, but I'm not there yet.

Oh, and Judah was born! He shocked me by coming into the world super fast (like 3 hours of labor!) whereas Salem took his time and came in 36 hours! I was in the hospital for about 6 minutes before he was born and almost had him in the lobby! He has been such a sweet baby and it is seriously a blessing and a privilege to be his mom. I love being a second time mom too. I'm much more carefree and not really worried about all the things I was concerned with the first time. My biggest concern with him is making sure I soak up the sweet season of him being a baby and not passing up the chance to snuggle him a little longer and kiss his sweet cheeks more times than I can count in a day.

Around the same time Judah was born, my mom died. It has been a really different year without her. We didn't have a close relationship growing up but in the last few years before her death I really felt God had healed our relationship. I finally forgave her for things that happened in the past and started seeing her as the new creation of God that she was. There are daily reminders of her all around me that make me remember her. Although I wish she was able to be a part of Salem and Judah's life, I know she's with Jesus and is free from all the things she struggled with here.

We moved to Austin! I wrote more about my heart behind that here. We're settling in as best as we can right now. Building community is hard and I wish I could microwave it and have instant closeness with all the people we've met, but God is teaching me a lot about patience and steadfastness through building it slowly.

Lastly, I finally started this blog. It might not seem like a big deal, since you can start a free blog in 5 minutes, you know. But it was kind of a big deal for me. Maybe it would've been easier if I just wanted to blog a recipe or an outfit or something (which is totally fine!) but for me, God has been compelling me to write my heart, the joy and the pain, and tell my story. The verse God kept putting on my heart for my blog is 1 Peter 2:9. It says,


 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 
You guys, I've been in some darkness. Before I was a follower of Jesus and while I've been following Jesus. But the Lord called me out of it, made me His, redeemed me, transformed me, turned my mourning into dancing and put me in His marvelous light. And He told me to proclaim His excellencies through writing here. But man, I had to work though layers upon layers of fear and worrying "what will people think?" before I was obedient to that. I knew that what He was compelling me to write was going to take vulnerability - to show up and let myself be seen. And that was kind terrifying for me. But here I go! I started this adventure and I'm not turning back. 

Okay, 26, let's do this. I'm ready for all the things God has for me in this next year!