This Christmas has been so crazy.
It's been fun and excitement filled and tiring and draining and all well worth it.
We have spent tons of time with both sides of our families and Caleb has been able to finally meet all of his cousins.
Then the new year rolled around. My family came in town to see us and we had a second Christmas. They all left this morning though, leaving a two year old with big crocodile tears in his eyes.
Seth and I were also sad to see all our family leave, leaving us with an empty house, in a town with no family.
Our choice of course when we decided to join the Army, but every time we have to say goodbye to our families, our hearts wish that we could live closer than 10 and 14 hours away.
I think being pregnant makes me even more homesick than I usually am.
Our hearts just want to be closer to family.
I was also thinking back on this past year.
I saw so many tweets and Facebook posts about how excited people were about the new year and how horrible 2011 had been for some.
It really made me stop and think about what the year 2011 was like for us.
January we found out that we were expecting, due September 11.
The end of January, we found out that we lost our little baby.
February, our little Caleb turned 2 and we had a great birthday for him at the aquarium and then a birthday brunch with special friends. My parents even surprised him and drove down for his big day!
March, we found out again that we were expecting and then a few days later, yet again went through the sadness of realizing we had lost that little baby too.
April we found out we were moving. I had mixed feelings. I had spent a year and a half making new friends, most of that time while Seth was deployed. These friends had helped me through a difficult time. They had kept me busy and watched out for me. We had found a great church and we had a nice home. But even with all the great things Fort Benning had to offer us, there's always a sense of excitement when you find out you are moving somewhere. My heart was still fragile from the loss of two babies and recent news of two of my closest friends becoming pregnant made my heart ache worse. I was happy for them, I truly was, but every time I met them for lunch or spent time with them, I couldn't help but long to be pregnant too, I should have been experiencing pregnancy with them. It seemed to make sense that it would make my move easier, just to have a fresh start and not be constantly reminded of my miscarriages. Such a selfish train of thought as I would later learn.
May we had a great time just spending time with friends and each other. That, and I almost ended up with a pixie style haircut when I tried to highlight my hair myself. I jumped up and down in the shower, begging Jesus to not let all my hair fall out...I can SO laugh at that now, but at the time it was not funny. I still have my hair...but will not be trying the home highlighting kit ever again!
June was my birthday month! Caleb and I drove to Virginia to spend time with my family and Seth surprised me by meeting us up there and taking me for a weekend to Williamsburg...this was our very first trip together without Caleb and we had a great great time.
July was moving month. It was hot. It was a long couple of weeks but we managed to get our entire house unpacked in 4 days. Did I mention it was hot???
August we found out were expecting! We found out super early...I thought I was further along than I was, only to have my first ultrasound to find out I was 2 1/2 weeks behind what I thought. But baby had a strong heartbeat! We also spent the month getting to know our new town and meeting new friends.
September was a blur. I know Caleb started school and I know I at least showered and got dressed (most days), but I was sick...so so so so sick with little baby in my belly and the whole month seems hazy.
October was partially blurry. I started feeling better about halfway through the month. October was a rough month. We lost a good friend of ours back home and made the trip to Virginia for the funeral. It feels like just yesterday that we found out he had been killed. Now, nearly 3 months later, we still think about him and talk about him all the time.
We came back from Virginia and a few days later we did Halloween with our little Halloween chicken. He was such a cutie. Best Halloween so far.
November was fun. We spent Thanksgiving with my family and took Caleb to a beautiful orchard in Virginia. We were all able to get a good taste of fall, falling leaves and bright, gorgeous mountains, covered in yellows, reds and golds...something that is foreign here in south Alabama.
December was also fun. We decorated for Christmas and spent 11 days in Texas for Seth's sister's wedding and Christmas with the Wade side of the family. We had a fun, family filled time catching up with everyone!
Our year has been filled with ups and downs.
I look back at each trial we faced, the loss of two babies and a childhood friend and other trials that weren't blogged about.
Were they fun? Of course not. But through each and every trial I have faced this year, I can see where God used every part of it to grow me.
I was able to work through my jealousy of my expecting friends and find true joy in my hearts for them and find contentment in where I was, just in time to find out I was expecting again.
God's timing is no coincidence.
I've been able to appreciate my life in a new way because of the death of others.
I've seen grown men and ladies act like my two year old because they have allowed their own self pity to eat away at them and I watched as they hurt so many people around them.
I knew in those instances that God had better plans for me than for me to spend even another minute feeling sorry for myself.
I have faith that in every trial I will face, God has a plan for me...perhaps a lesson I need to learn or something someone else needs to learn from me. We have the choice to take our trials and wallow in our own self pity, blaming others for our poor choices and living our lives as the victim, or we can put our grown up pants on and thank God for our trials, knowing that He will bring us through to the other side, stronger and better.
I know I have hurt people along the way this past year. I have pushed people away out of my own selfishness and I have made my fair share of mistakes. I pouted and wallowed at times and my self pity was overwhelming some days.
This year wasn't perfect and I was and am far from perfect, but God sure did take care of me in spite of my mistakes.
If I choose to highlight the low parts of my year and dwell on them, I could say this year really stunk...but that wouldn't be the honest answer.
My blessings far outweigh my hurts. I'm in a warm house today with a healthy husband and 2 year old and a healthy little one kicking from in my belly. I am not hungry and I have clothes on my back. My bills will be paid this month, my husband has a job. I have friends and family who love me. I have Christmas gifts that I haven't even been able to use yet. My list could go on forever and ever.
This year has been a great year. God has provided for me in so many ways and I know that whatever I may face in 2012, it will all be okay because I have God on my side.
It might not be easy, it may not always be fun but I know I can lay my head down each night and know that God is there with me.
This year, I will find my contentment through Christ, knowing that nothing on this earth can ever fulfill me like He does.
I will thank Him for each day and place each day in His hands.
I will ask Him to help me with my struggles and flaws so that perhaps next year, they will be a thing He has allowed me to conquer.
I don't know about you but I am sure glad I have God on my side to start this new year off.
Without HIM, my life isn't worth living.
Is He number one on your list this year?
Here is a devotion I read today. I felt like it described me perfectly. What a great devotion to start the new year off!
Love to you all...I pray the year 2012 is full of blessings for you and your family!!!
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)
Growing up I had a plan for how I could make my life good.
Get a good education. A good job. A good husband. A few good kids. A good house. A good flowerbed out front. And a good mini-van parked in the driveway.
Then life would be… good.
Eventually, I had all that good stuff. I was thankful for it all. I loved my family to pieces. The mini-van wasn’t all I thought it would be, but I felt like an official mom driving it. So even that wound up being good.
But something inside me still felt hollow. A little off. A little lacking.
So, I reasoned I needed something else to do. Something where I could use my gifts and talents. And while these things were fun and satisfying on one level, they too fell short when it came to that deep place ringing with the echoes of empty.
Empty is a heavy load to bear. The mystery of wanting to be filled but not knowing how or what could fill the deep soul is a gnawing ache. A search that can seem both futile and shattering at times.
When you try and try, always feeling like the answer is just around the corner, and then it isn’t, it can split your heart wide open and leak dry all your reserves.
It can make you feel unsatisfied and frustrated with everything. Even those you love. Maybe especially those you love.
So you fake a smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. But eventually you stop peeking around the next corner hoping the answer is there. History tells you it isn’t. And wrapped in that perception is the noose that strangles out all hope.
Sadly, this is where many women live.
I know this place because I lived there. I struggled there.
And I guess I’m just wondering if you or someone you love might be there as we begin another year. A New Year. It’s tough when everything around you screams “Happy New Year!” and you feel anything but.
It quite honestly stinks.
So, I’m not going to pretend you’ll suddenly feel super happy after reading this.
But what I can promise is a string of words that explains a lot. An answer that is sure and solid and true and full of the breathless wonder of a hope rediscovered.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:13).
Salvation can’t be found in a person.
Even a good husband — good children — a good friend makes a very poor God.
Salvation can’t be found in anyone or anything else.
No education or job or house can save you.
There is no other.
And I’m not just talking about saying we’re a Christian. Just following the rules and really following Jesus are two totally different things.
Going through the motions of religion won’t ever satisfy. It’s only when we bend down low, open our heart in complete surrender, and say, “Jesus, it’s You. Only You. There is no other. There is no other possession or person or position that can ever fill the deep soul place shaped only for You.”
This is my New Year’s prayer this year. Though I’ve been saved for a long time, I want to recapture the essence of this “no other” reality.
And really live like this is true.
Because it is. True.
Dear Lord, forgive me for trying to fill the empty places of my soul with people, possessions and positions. I want to know what it means to have You, Lord, as the satisfier of the deep places meant only for You. Show me. Teach me. Lead me. And I will follow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.