Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015

We started 2015 in Florida. Ringing in the New Year as a family at Lego Land to be exact. That was a fun and memorable time of celebrating. Our family of 3 entered 2015 with excitement. 

We celebrated my birthday in February. Okay, to be fair, we celebrated the whole month of February. But it wasn't my birthday that made February special this year. It was the 28th of the month when I had the first sign that we were expecting. Our family of 3 was going to become a family of 4 in 2015 and that was obviously the major theme that marked this year for us. 


We celebrated Michael's birthday in April and officially announced our news on Easter. I admit to being nervous and anxious but also wanted our prayer warriors and friends to pray for us and the baby. 


In May Eli turned 7. We celebrated his birthday at Putt Putt this year with, of course, a Dinosaur cake. The birthdays through the years show me how much he's growing and the true blessing it is to be this boy's mama. 


In June we got the first glimpses of our baby's sweet features and oh how I clung to those images! I studied the nose, mouth, the hands up by the face. And of course we wanted the gender to be a surprise - at least until we revealed it in the presence of our family who would celebrate with us. 

Can we say SURPRISE?! Who can forget this image when I was SHOCKED to learn the inside of the cake revealed PURPLE icing, which meant a GIRL! I was CONVINCED we were having a boy. Michael and Eli both swore it was a girl. So yes, I ate my humble pie AND my purple cake. We knew instantly her name would be Violet Hope. We had chosen it before she was even conceived.

This summer was a HUGE milestone for Eli as he learned out to swim. This confidence booster was such a turning point for him considering he wouldn't even cooperate during lessons to literally overnight being like a fish! We are SO proud of him! 

Michael and I had a "babymoon" to Southport and Oak Island where we enjoyed the relaxation of the beach and LOTS of seafood! We knew this would probably be our last getaway without kids for awhile but we both were looking forward to the changes to come. 

At the end of July, we went back to Florida with both Michael's parents and mine for a week long vacation, including Magic Kingdom, Kennedy Space Center and lots of time relaxing at the resort and enjoying our family time. This was our 4th trip to Magic Kingdom as a family of 3 and Violet's First trip - kindof! But we can't wait to take her for real!

August brought a new year of school - 2nd grade for Eli. This year has been marked with new adventures for an ever-energetic little boy of creating and discovering who he is, new struggles he faces with school and developmental delays and even more challenges that co-parenting and custody schedules bring. Eli's creativity continues to thrive as he's become more enthralled with his inventions and creations. All this kid needs is a roll of tape and some scraps and he will make a creature out of it!

The long awaited, much anticipated birth of our daughter finally came 4 days late and with an unexpected c-section after a day and a half of labor but on November 12, Violet Hope made her entrance into this world. She's stolen our hearts and fit right into our family beautifully. 

































Of course we adore her but what is so beautiful is watching the relationship between this brother and sister. I admit - I was worried. He's adopted. She's born from my womb. Would he feel differently? Would he know how much he's loved? How much I prayed for him? How he made me a mother to begin with? Without skipping a beat, this is how God planned our family. It hasn't always been perfect or beautiful. It hasn't been all joy and rejoicing. There has been heartache and tears but I can look back over this nearly 10 year journey to becoming a mother to these 2 children and know God has had His sovereign hand over each detail. 



As we rounded out December, the birth of our nephew came as an early surprise when he arrived 10 days before his due date. Celebrating Christmas with these two babies has been so much fun! Cousins just 5 weeks and 1 day a part and our family is truly overflowing.

I could have NEVER predicted or planned for what we've seen and experienced in 2015. There's no way I could have even begun to understand what all was about to unfold in these 12 months. My husband often remarks how we've managed to pack so much life in such a short amount of time. So much of what became of this year was well out of my control. So much of what has come has been so deeply embedded in my faith walk of trusting the Lord with each step of this journey. 

When I began 2015 it was claiming joy and hope. I wrote these words:

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

Joy continues to rise in my heart. I can't contain my rejoicing because of how I've seen God work. Understand, this isn't the reflection of 2015. This is the restoration of many years of waiting, praying and seeing Him at work. As I reflect on this year, I simply cannot claim God's faithfulness enough. 



From our family to yours, whatever the year has brought, whatever you've gone through or faced, whatever you may be looking forward to in the coming year, whatever you've celebrated or experienced in 2015, Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

It's Over

And just like that... It's over. 

Months of anticipation. Weeks of preparations. Days counted down. All leading up to the big day. Christmas has once again come and gone. Most people are usually busy with plans right up until the day, and then we wake up on December 26th and it seems as if the entire holiday festivities have drastically plummeted into oblivion. The celebrations have come to a screeching halt. The trash cans now overflow with garbage that just a day before decorated beautiful wrapped packages. Boxes that held gifts are now shreds waiting for the landfill. The 24 hour Christmas stations have gone back to their regular play lists. Holiday item prices have been slashed and shelves are now filled with Valentine gifts. The Christmas dinner that took hours to prepare is today's leftovers. Even worse, the spirit of the season that saw strangers wishing glad tidings of great joy has now transformed to frustrations waiting in line and pedestrians nearly being plowed over by hurrying vehicles refusing to yield. 

It may in fact be the saddest day of the year. In my opinion, of course. My opinion is also that Christmas should not be dictated by a date on the calendar. Nor should it be non-existent in our lives after the 25th. Christmas should be Christ in us. Every day. The spirit of the season is the abundant joy of knowing Him as Lord. We should live everyday like it's Christmas, celebrating His gift to us.

The celebration of Christmas may be over but the gift given to us by the Savior we honor is eternal. This is the very spirit of God in us that allows us to experience joy even when there is heartache. To give freely without any special occasion. To love extravagantly expecting nothing in return. Our holiday celebrations may be over but the life of Christ remains in us always. 

I'm still watching Christmas movies, listening to my Christmas playlist and refusing to take down my decorations. At least for a little while longer. I'm reminded to continue the celebration of Christ and my purpose to share His gift of life no matter what day it is. May the spirit of Christmas still be with us today and every day. 

  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tis the Season

It's the most wonderful time of year. It's the time of year I've waited for. Oh yes, it's Christmas alright and I know this because of the white fudge Oreos and white chocolate raspberry creamer I've recently found in the stores. You know my obsession with coffee and cookies (and not necessarily these together). For me, no plain Oreo will do. I preferred double stuf'd. And even more than that, I prefer the seasonal holiday Oreos with the colored centers. I'm not sure what it is about the colored cream that makes me believe it's somehow sweeter. In spring there's yellow, orange for fall and Christmas time, of course, we have red. But this seasonal limited edition cookie dipped in white fudge - well, I search for them every year signaling the official "season."

It's the same search and success when I finally find pumpkin spice creamer in the fall. It makes the anticipation worthwhile. And it also makes me appreciate the flavors and finds I can only savor for a brief time each year. I do my best to stock up but inevitably the supply will dwindle well before my February birthday. 

Feel love. 

Share joy.

Christmas spirit in the air. It lends itself to smiling at strangers or wishing Merry Christmas to those around you. We drop change in the bucket. We reach out to neighbors, friends and those we haven't seen or kept in touch with all year. We buy gifts for the angel tree. We actually employ the lost art of snail mail and send cards. We feel good when we're doing good. Yet I wonder; why do we only seem to extend this courtesy and care for others at Christmas?

Tis the season for added generosity. Tis the season for blessing others. Tis the season for giving. Tis the season for sharing and caring. But why is it only a season? 

If we get down to the real meaning of Christmas then I have to believe it's about sharing the spirit of Christ - the epitome of love, caring, sharing, generosity, kindness, goodness and joy. It's the spirit of Christ in us, which is not meant to be seasonal. Certainly the fruit of His Spirit dwelling in us was never intended to be a limited time offer.

We shouldn't have to search for it. It's shouldn't be something we wait for all year. It should be alive and active and dwelling in us daily. If we lived like everyday was Christmas we wouldn't just seek to bless someone in a season but rather we would see the opportunities around us all throughout the year. This isn't about the spirit of Christmas - it's about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that transforms our thinking, acting, doing and causes us to celebrate, encourage, share, give and love no matter what date the calendar reads.

Our celebrations will be to share with those we love and, hopefully, to honor Christ's birth. This year I'm compelled to consider that if we truly want to honor His birth, we must remember to honor His life and His entire reason for coming to earth by extending the holiday well beyond the 25th of December. This isn't a limited edition helping of the Spirit. This is the eternal gift of salvation that transforms lives. You don't have to stock up on Jesus like I do on my limited time flavors before they disappear. You simply have to choose to live and walk with Him everyday.  


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

These Moments

These are the moments we waited for. Since the end of February we looked forward to November. We've anticipated the birth of our baby. We've prepared and planned. Weeks turned into months and the last few weeks seemed like the wait might take forever. Now she's finally here. November has come and gone. Our daughter has joined our family and in a fleeting moment it's somehow December. The countdown now is to Christmas and yet another new year.

It's been 20 days since her arrival and yes I've been counting each one. Somehow it feels like a whirlwind that got thrown into time standing still. If I could freeze these moments of holding our growing newborn I would. I've said it over and over - you can't spoil an infant. Maybe you can, but frankly I could care less. She loves being held and I love holding onto these moments because I know they will be gone before I can even blink. I'm okay with still being the sustenance of life she depends on. I'm tired but not weary because I am fully embracing this season of life knowing it is but a fleeting season.

It seems like only a short time ago I was rubbing my ginormous belly and wondering (impatiently) when we would finally meet her. Now I stare at her perfect little button nose and sweetheart lips and wonder about her life, her personality, the days planned for her by God Almighty. Everyone says she looks like her daddy and she certainly enjoys sleeping like him! It makes me wonder if she'll take after my love of music - or if she'll have any resemblance of my DNA at all! She's too little to care about dress up but I admit I'm having so much fun with all her outfits and hair bows. These are the moments I'm savoring. 

There's no deeply spiritual undercurrent here. There is the simple joy of taking it all in, holding onto every moment and doing my best to savor the peacefulness of her slumber while her greatest concern is just being held and fed. These are the moments when my greatest concern is no longer the things that just a few weeks ago caused me to stress and worry. 

It's an especially busy time of year but I'm taking this time to rest in knowing my greatest responsibility is simply being in the present peaceful moment. And the not so peaceful moments. In the moments in the middle of the night when my baby wakes. In the moments of bliss when my baby girl is nestled under my chin. In the moments of stress when I don't know how to soothe my fussy little one. In the moments of pure joy when I stare at her, mesmerized by the fact that she was once inside my womb where Father God fashioned each one of her beautiful features. It's the moments when her daddy bounces her hiccups away or the moments when she's enthralled with her big brother reading to her. These are the moments I'm cherishing, the moments I'm documenting and writing upon my heart. These are the moments I want to remember and savor. These are the moments we waited for. The moments that will all too quickly be gone.