It was a year.. 2015. I didn’t like it. I sit here in a quiet house on New Year’s Day and I cannot wait for this year (or really more this chapter) to be over. I long for new.
Typically at the end of the year I’ve reviewed the “highlights” of Underwooddays for the year.. I summarize the high peaks. And while there have been peaks this past year, there have also been some pretty low places. I debate on how candidly to share.. but if there is one thing I want said of my writing, my life, of ME is that I’m the real deal. I won’t say what you want me to say, or pretend I feel something that I don’t. So if I had sent out a Christmas letter (something I did years ago) it wouldn’t boast about our kids, or the vacations we took, it wouldn’t talk about our careers or personal achievements and tie up beautifully with a spiritual reflection. It would have gone something more like this-
In 2015 we felt broken
- We went through the training/paperwork and were licensed with our county for foster care. This was a huge step of obedience on our part as we went in with (what we thought were) eyes wide open. We had four foster kids in our home from June till October. I am thankful to have known each of the kids. It was a crazy adventure! The county drops off these kids as complete strangers that will now live in your house as part of your family. They bring a backpack of belongings, they tell you a few things about the kids, and then they leave! We had a preemie baby who we had to wake for feedings cause he just wasn’t that interested. We had two sisters (less than a year apart) at one and two with significant motor and verbal delays and bigger issues with food. And then we had a two month old chunky boy “baby A” who started stealing pieces of my heart week one. When he left this fall (after being with us for three months), I was not okay. He went back to his mom. I could tell myself this was good and this was the goal.. but still it felt like someone had taken my baby. And stealing babies is NOT okay. I’ve cried a lot and still when one of our kids is looking through my phone pictures and shows me baby A. I’m not okay. So, we’re taking a break. To hopefully rest and heal but still stay a part of foster care somewhere down the road in 2016.
- We continued to transition at Anchor Point (Ryan’s work). We’ve been on staff at Anchor Point for three years now. It was a decision we made SO confidently after attending the church and getting to know our former pastor. As a wife it was almost a miracle (three years ago) to see my husband not only working in a church again, but excited identifying with the vision of where the church was going! After our first six months at Anchor Point our pastor resigned. And Ryan and I looked at each other internally screaming. We were so certain about where we thought we were going! And now we were going somewhere new. Our time at Anchor Point has been one of transition. This year I would call it a season of grief in that transition process. Because letting go of something you thought you had (and wanted) is plain hard. Working hard in a new direction in the midst of letting that go is even harder. But- I love my husband. I will always say whatever church (or organization) that gets him is blessed. He works hard. He is talented (seriously talented). He loves people. He loves life. And if we’re talking about the real deal- Ryan Underwood is that. When un-churched people tell me they respect my husband or would attend his church.. that’s when I feel totally okay with being called a pastor’s wife. But this year has worn him out. He has come home tired (in the midst of foster care) and our crazy life with three cute kids. And it has been hard.
- In 2015 I’ve also been dealing with health issues. Any Doctor (or therapist) would attribute this to a higher level of stress in my life.. I would agree. But this year has been brutal with my temperament. I push myself hard and never want health issues to define the way I live. And yet some days they do. I’ve been to my Doctor some, tried alternative care, chiropractic, massage, Pilates, and even acupuncture in hopes of managing now chronic issues I have with sleep, back/neck pain, and stomach issues. Oh, and gray hair (that might top the list).
The thing about this feeling of brokenness is that there are so many questions from this past year. Just “why”? Both of these decisions (being licensed with foster care and coming on staff at Anchor Point) were things that we felt 100% clarity on. We stepped into them as a team. We thought our eyes were open and our questions had been answered.. and the last year has been a lot of asking “what are we doing”? Not that I think just because we feel called to do something that means it will be walking through a field of daises, but this year has thrown us for a loop. As I write this I think of all the other people I KNOW that have had a hard year. A much harder year. In no way do I write thinking we’ve gone through the depths of despair.. that we’ve had it the worst. We haven’t. I just feel broken and wish I could put things back together. I want the mess cleaned up. And I can’t clean it up myself. I can’t heal my heart faster or answer the hard questions.
If at this point reading you feel depressed. I’m sorry. I warned you quite fairly. In closing 2015 and looking at the new 2016 calendar.. I want to look at brokenness honestly. To say life doesn’t make sense. It hurts like hell sometimes. And yet there is good.
In 2015 we grew. Look at our three kiddos! They are tall and smart and questioning and spunky. And I am SO thankful for the gift of being a family. This has probably been one of the bigger lessons I’ll take away from 2015. I was constantly reminded and brought to tears by the gift we have as a family. We’re not alone. I also close the year believing in my Father. He created me. He knows everything about how I’m wired. He knows how my heart aches and the questions I have. He has a plan with where we’ll go from here. This is not the end. I feel calmer knowing this brokenness will be used towards something. And I CANNOT WAIT for 2016 and seeing what that is! I also believe in my husband. If there was a year (in our twelve years together) to test our devotion to one another and to God- this was it. There have been rough moments- raw stuff. But there have been beautiful moments reminding me how marriage is our best practice on how to love and serve another. My husband seems committed to me (crazy as that is) through even the rougher places.
So we press on to 2016.. hopeful for fresh starts and continued growth. Feeling richly blessed to be together.
*photo credit to Kiley Marissa Photography