31 December 2017

Farewell 2017

Well here we are on the last day of 2017 and it seriously feels like each year goes by more quickly as I get older!

Even though I've become a very irregular blogger, I am committed to keeping my annual tradition since 2009 of looking at the year gone by and celebrating the good stuff.

2017, you were an interesting one, filled with some amazing highs and celebrations but also filled with some of the lowest lows I've experienced in a long time.  Through it all though, I have so much to be thankful for and celebrate.  

So here we go as I look back at some of my favourite highlights and memories from 2017...

There was a tonne of adventures this year.  Our youngest son Mykah had the trip of a lifetime when he went to China with his school!  My son Jasher and I went on a Mum & Son Road Trip to Tauranga, where I also got to catch up with some good friends.  

Symon & I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary by going to see Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark) with a live orchestra which was such an awesome experience.  There were a couple of other shows seen at the Civic, including going to a Hanson concert with my elsdest son (I was his support person... I promise!), and also going to see West Side story with my mum and boys.  

We also went to Life Conference and my eldest daughter and I travelled down to Sistas conference (her first time!).  Both were amazing.  I can't forget Armageddon as well - a first for all of us except Jasher.

For our family holiday this year we stayed local, but it was still an amazing family time, exploring our local region and spending some good quality time together relaxing.

After a massive renovation year in 2016, 2017 saw only 2 rooms completed, taking us to half way completed with our indoor area.  Firstly there was our Dining Room renovation, and most recently our Formal Lounge renovation.  Hopefully in 2018 we will be close to seeing the inside of our house near completion.

2017 was a massive year for our family with the sudden loss of Symon's Dad - a massive shock for all of the family and one we are still working through.  Loss is so hard.

My Dad also had a really rough year which included a block period of time where my Mum & Dad stayed down in Auckland hospital while Dad had a bone marrow transplant.  It was hard seeing my Dad so sick and my parents journeying down this path, but we are all so thankful for the amazing staff in our local hospital and in Auckland and for the amazing treatments available that have helped extend his life.  I love my Dad so much, and am praying that he has an amazing 2018 after a tough year and a half, and goes on some great adventures, making some great memories with Mum and us!  He's already back out surfing after a long break.

2017 was an amazing year with friends.  Symon & I are both blessed with some precious friends!  I loved catching up with various friends throughout the year who live near and far.  I'm so thankful for all of them.

It always surprises me how when I had 4 young kids and life seemed so crazy, I was able to make and bake so many things (there was so much to blog about back in those days - haha), and now that the kids are older, and you'd assume I'd have more time than when they were toddlers, I'd find time for creating a lot more.  I think the main words to note here is 'find time' though.  When the kids were young I used to steal moments throughout the day to be creative while they amused themselves, where as now with working part time, and the rest of the time living in my car being a taxi driver for the various activities going on for our kids, when I actually get some free time I usually collapse on the couch or am catching up on washing, cooking dinners etc.  Life definitely hasn't slowed down as the kids have gotten older, but somehow this year there was a few little creative projects, like various softies (hereherehere and here), my Mustard Granny Square blanket, a little creative solution for my earring and brooch collection, a simple way to sort my spices & herbs,  repurposing an old print into a framed blackboard, and making delicious things like Peanut butter fudge, a Minecraft cake and more.

There were some pretty big celebrations this year with a Minecraft birthday party for our youngest turning 10, Chinese celebrations that our children were involved with through their school, our eldest daughter became a teenager, which included a fun beach horse trek adventure, Symon & I celebrated 21 years of marriage, our eldest turned 18 and Symon had a pretty cool birthday party for his 43rd birthday, my Nana turned 85 years old and we celebrated by putting on a high tea party for her and her friends, I turned 40 and was able to get all of my besties together in one place for an awesome weekend, and we ended the year with a very different but still special Christmas.

When you focus on the good stuff, the year seems full of them.  There was a lot of lows, but one thing I've learned about 2017 is that sometimes things get worse before they get better - like renovations, ministry life, and my dads health journey.  If you're going through something really tough, may I encourage you that sometimes a tough road doesn't mean that you've taken a wrong turn, sometimes it just means that you've faced some pretty massive giants, and once you've walked through the mess, there is a beautiful adventure ahead.

I'm thankful for so much that has happened in 2017, and during the hard parts, I've been so thankful for God's grace, the hope of heaven and my precious family and friends.

Here's to 2018, may it be filled with many more adventures, tonnes of laugher, filled with family and friends, but most of all, may it be filled with walking out the amazing plans God has for your life and mine.

Happy new year!

To check out past Year in Review posts, click here.

29 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Another Christmas has come and gone.  

I always find it amazing how there is such a big build up to Christmas (especially thanks to shops and advertising) and then over a day or two it happens, and we are left afterwards wondering how quickly it's come and gone.  There is an awkward gap in between Christmas and New Years where we feel aimless, wandering around wondering what day it is, regretting the amount of Christmas food we consumed and hesitant about what day we are meant to pack up the Christmas tree and decorations.

As each year passes I find myself having mixed feelings each Christmas - it's a funny time of year, filled with celebrating our faith, so much food, family and fun, but also a difficult time of year for many reasons as well.  It's the time of year where we remember what Christmas was like as children for us, and as we get older and that excitement disappears, the sparkle of Christmas seems to fade, but then with another generation of children enjoying this season, it all seems to come alive again.  

I find myself telling my children stories of what Christmas was like for my brother and myself growing up - and with the retelling of those stories, there is the sadness that comes with his loss, but along with that, there is the rekindling of the fun, the excitement and the funny stories, like my parent's tradition of sprinkling lollies over the presents under the Christmas tree, and the year we woke up to find soggy half chewed lollies everywhere, thanks to our dog Cassi discovering the magic of Christmas lollies in the early hours of Christmas morning.  I remember the year there was a giant guitar shaped gift sitting behind our Christmas tree, and when asked what it was, my parents just kept saying it was a gift for my Pop.  Once all the gifts had been opened, they revealed it was actually a present for my brother, and upon opening it we discovered a unicycle!  I still remember the joy and excitement I felt at this unusual gift (even though it wasn't for me!) and the hours my brother Jamie spent over that summer in the passage of our house and out on the lawn mastering how to ride it.  So many good memories!

I'm sure my children will have stories to one day share - like this year when Mykah generously bought his little sister a giant penguin soft toy which he hid in our vacuum cleaner closet and wrote an elaborate riddle that sent her on a hunt to find the toy.

This year was special and hard all rolled into one.  As each year goes by there are often special people missing, some now living overseas and some who have passed on.  It never is the same without these loved ones, but one thing I've realised is that it is normal to feel this way - because Christmas is a time filled with family and memories, it's right to feel their loss even more so during these times, because they were and are so loved.

So this year we had tears, and we learned that there will be new 'normals', but I've realised that this will always be the way, and the most important thing is to remember and cherish the stories of old, and embrace those we have with us now, and to plan to make new memories in the future.

These little faces helped a lot though...

So this year on Christmas Eve, we went to church in the morning, where Symon shared a beautiful message (listen here - so good!).

On Christmas morning, our family woke and opened gifts together, then my Dad, Mum and Nana came around for a late breakfast - pancakes and bagels with cream cheese & jam!  It was a lovely morning together, and afterwards we headed off to my Aunt & Uncle's for Christmas lunch with my side of the family.  The bonus was having my nephew Jayden there!

Check us all out:

*Excuse the wonky pic - this was taken with a self timer on my phone which was wedged between the gap on a picnic table...

Symon & I with my parents, nana, kids and nephew...

The boys - 5 of my most favourite guys right here...

80's boy band coming to a cassette store near you soon...

The ladies...

The ladies when Nana tells us we need to look like we were brought up proper...

I love my family.

On Boxing Day we had Christmas lunch with Symon's side of the family.  It was our first Christmas without Dad Drake, and there was also 9 other family members who weren't there, so it definitely felt different this year, but it was still lovely.  Family is so precious, no matter how many are present.

A great day for swimming as well!

The day after Boxing Day we made a very important visit to a local chemist store to use a Christmas voucher - our youngest had her dream come true of getting her ears pierced!

So Christmas for 2017 was lovely - each year is different, and I'm sure each year in the future will change dramatically over the years, but as I ponder on this year nearly passed, I am thankful for my family and friends, thankful for the memories made, and so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus, who came down to earth to live as a man, die for our sins then rise again, so that us here on earth could find forgiveness and peace and discover an amazing future we have ahead because of Him.

That is the best news ever.

To see all my instagram Christmas photos for 2017, go here.

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