2016 has been a whirlwind, friends.
It’s hard to believe my little boy is five and my princess will be three in just a few short months. Where does the time go? I’m so thankful for both of those little ragamuffins. They keep their Momma and me laughing, running like crazy, and always thinking. At this stage, Ben loves schoolwork, Legos, and Hot Wheels. Caroline is all about Disney princesses and would live out in the backyard if we’d let her.
Lindsey is the hardest working woman in show business. She’s a pre-K teacher, with fourteen 4-year-olds in her class. Aside from that, she keeps our house spotless, cooks amazing (and healthy) meals, cares for our children, and puts up with all my shenanigans. She’s my very best friend. We laugh, cry, pray, play, and dream together. She constantly teaches me what authentic faith looks like in real life. We’ve walked a long and often difficult road the past ten years, but God continues to make beauty from our ashes and I’m more thankful for Lindsey today than ever before.
It’s been a busy year for Steve Austin, the writer. A new website, a new blogging platform, published in The Huffington Post, Relevant, a stint as a staff writer for Venn magazine, a year on the Board for Altarwork, articles on The Mighty, Good Men Project, PsychCentral, and more. Plus three books! I feel incredibly satisfied at how productive and stretching this year has been for me as a writer and all-around creative guy.
Another thing I’m especially thankful for this year is a renewed motivation to be healthy. If you don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may not know that I’ve been working incredibly hard the past nine weeks to get in shape. And it’s working! My main goal was for my mental health, but thanks to healthy eating and loads of exercise, the benefits reach farther than just mental health. In addition to the lower anxiety levels, I’ve lost 13 pounds! (Only 12 more to go.) I can’t stress the importance or the benefits of daily exercise enough. It has truly changed my life.
This year, our family also found refuge in my childhood church for several months, and since that time has helped launch a new church: something I never thought we’d do again. God is funny like that, right? The very moment we’re convinced that a certain thing will or won’t ever happen again, that’s the moment God snaps a finger or waves a wand (does She have a wand?) and brings the most unexpected thing into our lives. This year, like so many others, has taught me that God cannot be boxed-in, limited, understood, or easily explained. And for the first time in my life, I’m thankful for that.
2016 has also brought some new friendships, taken some away, and taught some really hard lessons. I feel more disconnected from the traditional American Church than ever before, and yet…I’m really thankful for that. I’ve learned what it feels like to stand up for myself and still show others grace in the midst of disagreement. I’ve also learned when to just walk away. And friends, no matter what anyone else says, you do have permission to just walk away.
As with every other year, I’m incredibly thankful for grace. Second chances continue to pour into my life, wash over my soul, and connect me back to the Spirit of God, which never fails.
What are you thankful for this year? What lessons has 2016 taught you? What gifts has this year given? Where do you find joy? And where do you find comfort? Leave me a note in the comments!