I know, I know, it's late January already and posts about 2014 are so last year already (get it?)...but our move from Philly to Boston, the holidays, and the birth of my nephew kept us busy busy busy for so long that I'm still getting caught up on all my holiday/start-of-the-new-year recaps (but this should be the last - I promise!).
I don't have much to say about New Year's (it was a quiet, fun evening spent with family), but before pushing forward with all the things I want to write about now that we're getting into a normal routine in our new home, I wanted to at least write something that gives some closure to all we did and experienced in 2014. Or perhaps more accurately, I wanted to put something together for the blog that highlights/gives closure to all that I wrote here in 2014 (tomayto, tomahto). What better way is there to do this than to make a list of the Top 10 Favorite blog posts of the year?
Now, let me preface this by saying my original goal was to make a list of the 10 posts you readers loved the most. I even went so far as to attempt installing Google Analytics on the blog awhile back to make this happen...but for some reason it didn't work. Don't ask me why, because it seems simple enough - but clearly copying and pasting HTML code into the right place isn't my strong suit. Instead, this is going to be a list of MY favorite posts of 2014. Maybe you liked some of them, too?
Either way, this is my "official" list of my Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2014! In chronological publishing order:
This one makes the list because it shares some very real reflections and realizations I've had on our family's path to "living liturgically." Sometimes it's better just to accept that you're on a journey, don't have it all figured out, and need more time to learn what's right for your family. I shouldn't let the big picture goals and high standards I'm working to (eventually) achieve prevent me from experiencing the present ways in which I can be loving the Lord and my family.
This is probably my favorite link-up I participated in all year! I wrote this piece for fun and posterity - and loved every second of choosing the photos and jotting down the behind-the-scenes details about my "old, new, borrowed, and blue" items from my wedding day. I mean, who doesn't enjoy reliving and sharing the details of what is arguably the most important day of a married person's life?! Thank you, Stephanie (of Captive the Heart), for inspiring me to take this walk down memory lane (P.S. If you or someone you know is a Catholic bride-to-be, make sure you check out Stephanie's blog!).
Probably some of the saddest news I shared details about on the blog last year, but it chronicles important, cherished memories leading up to the sudden, unexpected death of my husband's grandmother. This piece is also a good reminder that even when we think we know our plans (and wouldn't have wanted to change them for the world), the Lord's plans are always better. Sometimes we can't see or understand right away, but blessings often come in disguise.
Do you ever get really excited to write something and the reader response is just...meh? I got a few sweet responses about this piece, but let's be honest: it makes the list of favorites not because of some fabulous response or discussion from readers - but because I enjoyed writing it and felt pretty proud of it. I remember how I felt as I was writing it - and it challenged me to use my brain in far more intellectual ways than I need to when I jot down updates about my family's life (though I enjoy doing those, too!). And as a stay-at-home mom who spends her days talking to little people and/or myself most of the time, I like feeling like I can still be intellectual when I want to.
5. Gabriel: One Year
Our baby boy turned one in 2014! This is a big milestone in the life of a baby and our lives as (first-time) parents, so naturally it's on my list of favorites. Can you believe he's nearly a year and a half as I currently type this? Time flies, and I'm so grateful I was able to document so many details from our little man's first year.
6. To the Family that Sat Behind Us in Church Yesterday
All of you other bloggers out there can probably relate to having an experience that made a great impact on you - so you turn to the blog to process and share it. My heart was genuinely touched by the simple, kind actions and affirmations of one particular family at church at a time when I don't think I even realized how badly I could use such moral support as a parent with a young child at mass. This experience still stands out to me months later. God bless them.
This one describes such a sweet memory of watching our son play with one of his little friends. I experienced and wrote a lot about community and friendship in 2014, and I think this piece is a good representation/summary of many of those reflective writings. It's no surprise that friendships evolve once you get married, nor should it be any surprise that they can (and should) evolve when you become a parent. I always knew this, but my baby boy helped me to better understand why this is such a good thing (for my entire family and myself).
8. Singing for Jesus
It's common sense that once you become a mother, the ways in which you can give back your time and talents to the Church will alter drastically. Serving my family as a wife and mother is one of the utmost important aspects of my marital vocation, but that doesn't mean that I will forevermore be confined to giving back within the walls of my home. This piece shares the ways in which I found I could give back and get more involved in ministry while still being fully present to the needs of my husband and child. Ministry work has always been important to me and is a big part of my spiritual life, so this was a great thing for me personally that came out of 2014 - earning it a spot in the top 10 posts of the year.
9. Gifts are Freely Given
This contains some healthy realizations and reminders for me about marriage and love languages. I think it's important to learn, based on our personalities and love languages, when it's better for me to simply ask for my husband's opinion & when to be patient and allow him to notice and comment on his own. After all, a gift is only a true gift when freely given. I like this post because I think it shows growth in my understanding and approach towards my marriage - which is always a positive!
10. A Bit of What I Do Everyday
This one is self-explanatory...but I like it because it puts into words what I so often struggle to relay to others about my role as a stay-at-home mom. It also describes my growth as a wife and mother when it comes to how I handle the "what did/do you do all day?" question. Being at peace with the fact that I can't put it all into words and some people simply won't ever understand - and genuinely feeling like that's okay - is crucial for my own mental health as a SAHM.
Each of these were chosen for varying reasons, but when I look at them collectively I see so many themes that do well to represent our overall experiences in 2014. We grew so much as parents and within our marriage, suffered a couple great losses of loved ones, found opportunities to get involved with ministry that fit our family's lifestyle, and through it all we were incredibly blessed to find a wonderful community that enriched our lives, supported us, and simply shared our family's many joys (and thankfully few sorrows) along the way. If I had to choose one word that seemed to describe our lives in 2014 it would unquestionably be "community."
Thank you to all of you that have joined us on our journey! Now, 2015: let's do this.
"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective."