Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Year Gone By

2014 is quickly coming to a close. In just a few hours we say goodbye to another year. It's always a time of reflection and I would be remisce if I didn't stop and count the many blessings and lessons of the year that's coming to a close. But first some of 2014's highlights:

January brought a fourth member to the family. 

Remember that fury little fluff ball? All 7 deceiving pounds of him that melted our hearts. It was the first week of January and the beginning of the Polar Vortex and a harsh, snowy 3 months of winter (even for Virginia). Now this 65 lb Oompa Loompa is a permanent fixture in the Wright Home and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

February brought my 35th birthday, more snow and these infamous shots. 

Oh how I love these photos. Yes, it was freezing. Yes, I had on snow boots and leggings underneath my gown. Yes, it was worth it!

Fast forward to April and Mikey's birthday, then May and a dino-mite 6th birthday. We also took our first vacation of the year to Nags Head. 

June brough the official start of summer and a trip to DC. So many sights to see, so much history. 

July was our first trip to Williamsburg & Busch Gardens. We have determined we love amusement parks. So much so we would return again in September. 

August began Elijah's first grade year, which has proven to be a lot more challenging than Kindergarten but we couldn't have been blessed with a more loving and devoted teacher. So many of you have prayed for this little boy and knowing he is bathed in prayer is the biggest blessing of all. We still have challenges ahead so as we look toward 2015 it is a reminder of having to seek the Lord for guidance and knowing how to best parent and advocate for this little life we are entrusted with. I know you will agree - this is one of the biggest lessons we face as parents, having to surrender our children to the Lord ALL the days of their lives and seek to do what's best for them, even when it's difficult. 

The first of September we learned we were expecting. We couldn't contain our excitement! This was truly an answer to prayer and something we had been hoping and waiting for. We celebrated and embraced this little one. It caused me to look toward 2015 - specifically May - with a whole new perspective and plan. It wouldn't just be a new year, it would be a new baby, a new beginning, a new life, a growing family, a fulfilled longing and an answer to prayer.

In October we were forced to say goodbye. I cannot deny the months since have still brought grief. I've also had newfound friendships as I've connected with others who have walked this same journey. I can't yet fully understand God's plan in all of this.

We close this year out in Florida enjoying time with family and vacation. 
Magic. It never loses it's luster. I've determined that the Christmas holiday and Disney World allow me to appropriately act the age I feel. It's been a weird time for me, though, because we planned this trip with the knowledge that we'd be marking our "halfway" point of pregnancy. I admit that at times I still struggle with this and as I look forward to 2015 this is so much a part of what I must face. 

This year God has brought me deep, meaningful friendships that have come to be a lifelong answer to prayer. I've watched God supernaturally step into situations that were simply beyond my control. I've seen Him work things out according to His plan even when I simply could not see any resolution. This year I've seen my own faith rise on wings of eagles and soar to mountaintop heights. And yet I've also felt my hopes and dreams plummet to the valley of the shadow of death. 

Now I look toward next year with a completely different meaning and perspective. Yesterday I was reminded (by one of those kindred friends) that I cannot just pull together my own plan and ask God to bless it. (Ouch! That one hurts.) Rather, I must seek His plan and follow His will.

There are two words that have come to share deep meaning in my soul: hope and joy. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 

Hebrews 11:1

God is my strength, my shield from every danger.
I trust Him and He helps me.
Joy rises in my heart 
until I burst out in songs of praise to Him
Psalm 28:7

This is the reason I sing. This is the reason for faith. This is the reason to look forward to 2015 and a new year. The hope I have is faith in Who He is. The joy I cling to is what rises within me as I trust Him no matter what I face. Another year comes to a close and a new one offers hope and joy with full confidence in a Sovereign God who holds each and everyday. 

Happy New Year. Happiness is relative, right? Relative to the perspective we choose when we realize Almighty God holds not only each of our days but each of us in His Sovereign hands.

I pray you feel His presence in your life and I pray for His deepest blessings on your new year. May your faith increase. May your hope be ever present. May your joy be deep. May you burst forth in songs of praise to Him. May you rejoice and trust in a God who is good, even when you may not be certain of what tomorrow holds. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Most Wonderful Time

It's the most wonderful time of year. At least that's what the song says. 

I openly admitted my love for this season which allows my inner child to actually be appropriate in public. Yes, I said this while donning my "tacky" Christmas sweater, complete with garland, packages, ornaments and, of course, a working strand of lights. It goes without saying that I embrace the Elf-like philosophy of spreading cheer by singing loud for all to hear. 

All of this makes it hard to understand why this season has but 3 days until Christmas and I find myself wondering how it's "slipped away." We scaled back this year. After a budget overhaul and some different goals we determined not to let Christmas break us. The same must be true from an emotional standpoint and not just budgetary purposes. What I'm realizing is that just because we aren't shopping to our limits, we certainly have been stretching ourselves to extremes. 

Doesn't everyone? I keep hearing it from so many, "We're just so busy." "We've just got to make it through the holidays." "This time of year is so demanding." "The emotions during this season have been on heightened alert." Yes, all statements I've heard from different people who must be feeling a level of overwhelmed that I can relate to.

But if we stop the buying, stop the wrapping, stop the decorating, stop the baking, stop the parties, stop the demands, stop the overwhelming expectations for a moment, would we find what we're looking for? Strip away the tinsel and lights, scale back the mounds of packages and find the simplicity of the season we truly are meant to celebrate.

We enter the hustle and bustle and lose the peace and joy. We fill our season with overwhelming demands and miss the momentous meaning of Christ's birth. We consume the season in all its shiny packaging, we take in the the commercialism and overlook the miracle of God wrapped in flesh. 

I feel Christmas spirit. It's in my marrow. It helps that my personality lends itself to, well, like I said an inner child that embraces everything about the celebratory season. But I don't want to miss the miracle. I don't want to overlook the reason we gather, buy, wrap, gift, give, get, sing, decorate and every other offering this season is filled with. More importantly, I don't want to just "get through" the holidays. Believe me, I know the demands it brings. I also know right beside my abundance of Christmas spirit is a near melt down if I allow the to do lists to take over. 

The Christmas spirit that runs deep is the joy of our Savior and the gift He came to bring us. The peace that passes all understanding when we place our trust in a Sovereign God, who admid all confusion sent His Son to earth to fulfill a plan that only He could orchestrate. Tis the season. The most wonderful time of year when we honor this gift, when we celebrate life and new birth, when we give and receive the incomparable love meant for each of us. When I keep this in mind, I can truly say it is the most wonderful time of the year. It's the reason I sing. It's the reason I don tacky Christmas sweaters. It's the motivation behind my desire to spread cheer - ultimately to spread the joy of Jesus. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Christmas

Thanksgiving has come and gone. December is upon us. The countdown to Christmas is here. I love this time of year. I cannot contain my joy. I admit, and most of you know, I am an extrovert by nature but there's something extra special about the spirit of Christmas that extends to holiday cheer.

I don't have anything profound to share today. In fact, just a few days ago someone asked me "Why haven't you blogged in awhile? Is everything okay?" Truthfully, yes. I realize I left you all hanging after my "I was mad" post. My deepest apologies. I'm happy to report I am not mad.

Today marks two months since we lost our little one. There's a special ornament on the tree. It's placed right beside a Christmas ball bearing the verse "For unto us a child is born..." It commemorates the Liberty Godparent Home in 2007. I hung it at the top of my tree that year as my prayer and faith in God to give me a baby. You know the story... The following year I would hang that ornament right beside the one that read "Baby's First Christmas." It brings tears to my eyes to recount His faithfulness. Bless You, Lord. I praise You for Your many blessings.

We did the unthinkable and put up the tree before Thanksgiving. Gasp. This month holds so much hustle and bustle, we decided as a family we wanted to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. It brings me so much joy to be able to place each ornament, recalling the memory attached to the ones that we've now had for three Christmases. Starting over can be difficult. It can also be healing. Once again I am reminded of His love and faithfulness, extended to even me.

What brings even more joy is watching the wonderment of the season through this little boy who continues to grasp more each year. He makes it even more fun. I admit I'm still having fun with our Elf who happily returned the day after Thanksgiving. I decided Jokey was never going to be the main emphasis for us. He's here to have fun and thankfully, by year 3, he's learned the house rules. Most of them, at least. He watches our creative thinker and promotes the active imagination of one curious little boy. It sure keeps this mama on her toes! But yet another reminder of how quickly things change, how fast the days go by, how many Christmases have come and gone since I was prayerfully asking God for this child.

I'm thankful to be in a place where I can say that I can give Him thanks in all things. It doesn't come without occasional tears or the sting of memories. It often comes through prayers and faith in what we still hope for and the assurance of what Christmas represents. Jesus. The One unto us who was born. The One unto us who was given. The One unto us whom we can place our trust in. The One unto us who causes us to believe in miracles. Not the Hallmark kind. The miracle of immaculate conception, a virgin birth, the fullness of God wrapped in the humanness of man. God's spoken word of redemption as a babe in swaddling clothes.

It's the reason to have joy. No matter what this year has brought. No matter what heartache you've endured or how many tears you've cried. It's the reason to sing. No matter how empty and hopeless you may have felt. It's the reason to celebrate. No matter what darkness you've journeyed through. It's Christmas. It's Jesus.