Reflecting on 2017’s Theme Taking Lessons into 2018

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2017 Theme: Perseverance

In hindsight it’s easy to see my family’s 2017 theme, but in May I could certainly feel it! Mamas, if you haven’t had the I’m a mom of a high school Junior experience, you may or may not be able to relate. Suffice it to say it’s almost as intense as potting training your toddler or teaching your child to read.

What was our 2017 theme?

Perseverance. No doubt, perseverance.


This is what God has to say about perseverance:
 

By July 11th when we at last clicked “Submit” to our oldest son’s college application on  ApplyTexas, wiping joyful tears from my eyes, I looked at my son, repeating our mantra, “Good thing we started at Spring Break!” At last the homeschool high school transcript was finished. Finally no more iterations to perfect those college application essays were needed. Those community service hours and the resume? Accounted for and logged completely. And I’m sure our oldest was relieved that he would not need to take another SAT.
Now we hurry up and wait to hear back from Texas A&M University . . .

2017 Insurance Policy: Buy One Get Three Free!

Perseverance was also needed to overcome physical adversity. On January 4, 2017, our second born son, David, helped us meet our deductible when his orthopedic doctor performed his first surgery of the year (David’s ACL reconstruction, right knee)! This quality was also tested and groomed in the 8-month long rehab process to get him back on that football field.

Then in February, our oldest felt a “pop” in his left knee while he worked out with his trainer. Shall we rename them destructive dips? As a Mama, I always know something is wrong when my son ASKS to go to the doctor. Sure enough, after a physical exam, an MRI confirmed our oldest would take his turn in the OR for a medial meniscus repair. Maybe Matthew figured his younger bro would appreciate company at the physical therapist? Regardless, it was more efficient to carpool to PT than to drive separately.

It would be reasonable to think that the knee surgery saga stopped there, but it didn’t. In March, also while working out, I suffered a little knee injury. While I’m used to noisy knees, pain is not my normal. Like Matthew, I also thought I’d tag along for one of David’s knee doc appointments and ask him to examine my knee as well. An exam and an MRI later, it was also confirmed that I had torn my medial meniscus. I changed my exercise regime, hoping that would diminish the grinding and pain . . . but it didn’t leave.

So, my knee doc told me, “I think we need to scope it . . . When do you want to schedule your surgery?”

After summer vacation, of course! I didn’t want to miss out on the family (and extended family) Destin  FL beach trip. We didn’t want to skip out on hosting our friends who moved to Tulsa, OK or on visiting my parents for the annual summer Midland trip. Missing the mini-road trip en route to Jackson, Wyoming where we swam at Balmorhea State Park (shorter than in 2016 because of rain), El Paso (to slide down the Wyndham Hotel’s four-story slide), Mesa Verde National Park (to see Cliff Palace and Balcony House–amazing cliff dwellings), and to hike in the hot desert while the sun-scorched our backs and water evaporated from our pores until we reached the breathtaking Delicate Arch (Arches National Park) would have been a shame.

If I’d had that knee scoped before vacation, I would not have bushwhacked off-trail with my family through Grand Teton National Park in hopes of catching fish on the north side of Bradley Lake. I may not have gotten to go camping at Crystal Creek Campground or hike to and fish at the Snake River. I wouldn’t have done a stream crossing on horseback before trodding up a mini mountain to look out at the Tetons. Participating in the Cochran Family Olympics (soccer, bean bag toss, Ultimate Frisbee) wouldn’t have happened. I may or may not have been able to swim at Granite Hot Springs.


On August 4, 2017 I finally got my knee scoped. So glad I did! I’m surprised how much better it felt very quickly after surgery. Now I just need another vacation to test its ability to persevere through more adventure.

Now it would be even more reasonable to believe that concluded the knee surgery story since people say “The third time’s a charm.” But, sometimes clichés are not reality.

I could tell it by the way he walked. When this child of mine limps, I know there’s pain because he’s the leave-it-ALL-out-on-the-field player that plays through hard, heartbreak, and hurt with enthusiasm, determination, and heart.

But you guessed it. He wanted to tag along to one of David’s and my knee doc appointments. How unpredictable that an exam and an MRI confirmed Matthew had torn his ACL, medial meniscus, and LCL.

My friends, this was a senior year, season ending injury that required reconstructive surgery. It was hard to receive the news, yet heartening to see the maturity for which I’ve long prayed emerge from our oldest son. When I really think about it, it’s what I want to see in my son before he launches: maturity. Ah, but this growth comes at the price of perseverance—perseverance through hard times breeds maturity.

“Mama, I know God allowed this to happen to me for a reason and I’m going to accept it and use it as an opportunity to develop my leadership skills OFF the field.”

And he did. Matthew continued to serve his football team as one of the three captains the entire season. He attended every practice. He never missed a game, nor played in one either. Now a couple of weeks post-op, he’s just started the clock on persevering through 8 months of rehab to recovery.

Perseverance has no doubt been a theme for us in the physical sense. Since the year has just concluded, now I can say with certainty: Our 2017 insurance policy was Buy One, Get Three FREE (knee surgeries, that is).


Perseverance: Even a Theme for our Pooch

Our Mama dog, Cheyenne, persevered through 65 days of canine pregnancy and a couple of days of stop-and-start labor. Eventually, and very thankfully, she delivered two healthy female Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppies. Interestingly (and very amazingly) the sisters are 24 hours, 22 minutes apart. A birth record of perseverance! But Christmas puppies were worth the wait and the surprise . . . right?!?


The Moment That Froze Time in 2017

Making memories and family bonding is top priority for my husband, Matt, and I as we lead and guide our family. That’s why we prioritize taking special summer vacations together and finding regular ways to keep our family connected the whole year through (knee surgery, Saturday morning special breakfast, Wednesday night (frequently a family night), family Fantasy Football league (a family who plays together stays together), etc. At different checkpoints throughout the year (we don’t officially set these, but we make a point of having these deeper family meetings probably quarterly), Matt and I circle up with our family for an introspective discussion, Bible study, and prayer time.


On the last day of 2017, we circled up to reflect on 2017 in a moment that froze time for this Mama. For at least some of our kids, it probably required perseverance to endure all 2 hours and 40 minutes of our discussion. Thinking back on 2017, each person took turns sharing their thoughtful answer to this question:

What did you accomplish in 2017? What helped you grow up/mature this past year?


Listening to my husband and children share their hearts, I took notes. Grateful, inside my heart I thanked the Lord for the maturity I heard popcorning around our family circle. Maturity that was hard-earned by persevering through the challenges we faced in 2017.


A Look Ahead to 2018

Afterward we turned our focus forward to 2018. We thought about and individually answered this question:

Taking the lessons you learned in 2017, what are your goals for 2018? What different steps will you take to accomplish them?

I’ve heard it attributed to Einstein, but a Huffington Post article attributes it to Narcotics Anonymous, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Looking for practical ways to take different steps toward more maturity in 2018, as a family we re-listened to the second sermon in the “Trade Up” series our Pastor Matt Cassidy taught through in the summer of 2017.

Proverbs: The Fool And The Wise – Matt Cassidy – 06.11.2017 from Grace Covenant Church on  Vimeo .

As we venture forward into this new year (Joyful, Happy New Year to you, BTW), I pray we will take time to reflect on both the lessons and blessings of the past year. May we take these into this new year with prayerfulness, thoughtfulness, and resolve to make the necessary shifts we need to mature and succeed in 2018.


Your Turn – You’re welcome to share them in the comments!

Looking back: What did you accomplish in 2017? What helped you grow up/mature this past year?
Looking forward: Taking the lessons you learned in 2017, what are your goals for 2018? What different steps will you take to accomplish them?

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Shannon Cochran

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