WOW! What a year 2012 has been!! I am so thankful for the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!! Without His coming , my year - my life would be way less full of grace and mercy! And boy have I needed it this year! Have you ever felt like you've had just one of "those" days? Or weeks? Or months? Or in my case year?? HAHA!

What a whirlwind 2012 has been!! One year ago this week we moved into a new house, followed by 3 weeks of strict bed-rest for me, followed by the birth of our son, Lucas. I have learned to be a working mother of 2 precious children, how to balance a bigger home, a bigger family, and bigger responsibilities. I have screwed up at most of the relationships in my life at least once this year - that's where the gratefulness for God's love, mercy and grace comes in. I have cried a lot, I have slept little, and I have wondered if I would survive it all! It has been a hard year of adjustment, but it has also been a great year of excitement and victories!

We have a beautiful new home I am still rearranging and decorating on a daily basis, I have a beautiful 1-year-old son, and nearly 3-year-old daughter! I have amazing new friendships blooming! I have a deeper relationship with God! I have fallen in love with my job! I have learned to function on little sleep and still keep a smile on my face! I am learning the proper order of priorities in my life. I have learned great life lessons!

This year I set goals - some of them I met and some of them I did not. This next year I will re-set some of those goals and maybe I'll accomplish them and maybe I won't - and you know what...I'm OK with THAT!! What a great feeling to be able to truly make that statement!! This time last year - I'm not sure I would be OK with that statement. I have learned that perfectionism is not a lovely trait! I have learned that life is better lived if I lower my expectations of myself, others, and the world around me. It has been liberating to know its OK if my house isn't spotless at the end of the day, and to breathe a little if I have to dig through the laundry basket because I didn't fold the last load before bed.  If my kids eat McDonald's for dinner because I didn't have time or energy to cook - it's OK. I used to feel guilty for sending my children to "school" on my day off, and now I realize I need that time to refresh my soul to be a better wife and mother.

I am so thankful for the hardship of this year - it has shaped me into a new person, a new follower of Christ, a new wife, and a new mother. Some days have not been lovely, some days have been super emotional, BUT other days have been life changing, more days have been victorious, and many days have been awesome! Every time little Lucas grins at me, and cries if I leave the room I remember how much of a good job I must be doing. When Amy Kate tells me how much she loves me, I think I must be doing something right. Or when Matt insist I look beautiful even in my "ugly" moments - I realize he really does care. I may not be the perfect wife, mother, friend, or daughter around but with the grace of God I am doing it and most days I'm doing a good job!! I am thankful that the Lord has taught me many great lessons this year. I may not get the days, moments, or relationships back that I messed up, but I believe all those things have been redeemed by Jesus Christ!

This Advent we are trying to balance the reason for the season with the whimsical of the season. This week we finally made a breakthrough with Amy Kate on the emphasis of Jesus' birth over the magic of Santa's arrival. This is a moment that I feel accomplished - like I'm doing something right. I want her to enjoy the whimsical magic of Santa, but I want her to know and understand that all of that is pointless without the birth of Jesus Christ. What a glorious season for us to celebrate and acknowledge. Thank you Jesus for giving up your throne at the right hand of God to come live his life just like me and everyone around me, so that you could understand what we go through and still take on our sins, our pains, our shortcomings. You did all of that so we could have forgiveness, salvation, and true relationship with God.

This year hasn't been my best - but with God's grace and mercy it has been one of my most victorious  - I wasn't sure a few months ago I would be able to say that - but today I stand certain that I can proudly proclaim his victory in my life! I am grateful for all the  moments of learning and am looking very forward to moving on to 2013 - ready to apply the life lessons I've learned in 2012!

What will you reflect on from 2012? Are you ready to move forward? Do you need find your place of victory? Has 2012 been a mountain top year for you or have you fought battles in the valley? Take time today to process the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2012 - I bet you'll find that through it all it was quite a beautiful journey - I know I did!!