Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Top 9 of 2009

Christmas letters are difficult for me to write because most people list all the wonderful things that have happened to them during the year, often citing those things as blessings from God. In the spirit of honesty and genuineness I believe my favorite Christmas letter I ever received was from friends who openly discussed the fact they they had gone bankrupt during the year. I am so happy that God blesses all of us at times with wonderful events to fill our Christmas letters with cheer. But if having a list of celebrations indicates God's blessing on our lives, our family is in trouble! God brings hardships too. Sometimes they last through several years of no Christmas letters. But I refuse to believe that means God isn't going to bless us soon, or that He isn't blessing us right now in ways we can't yet understand. Or in ways not quite worthy of a Christmas letter, yet blessings all the same.

While I like to consider myself an optimist, I also have to be honest and say that life is not all a bed of roses. Some years it is less-rose filled than others, and this was one of those years. So in all honesty, I must say, "Good riddance to 2009!" That being said, let the optimism kick in with a huge welcome and faith that 2010 will bring a few extra belly laughs.

But here are a few blessings we did receive in 2009... The Top 9 of '09

1. This was our first full calendar year with Will, in which we watched him learn to communicate almost anything he wishes, talking up a storm. He grew from my "baby," to my "big boy." He's potty trained and ready to take on the world.
2. I spent a full year as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). I love being with my boy, teaching him, sharing in his triumphs, being his primary care-giver. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that staying at home is a wonderful thing to do "if you can." I want to be the first to tell you that I can't. No one with any sense would look at our income and tell us they recommend me staying home, but that's what I did anyway. Because this is an area we feel strongly about, and God made it work.
3. I joined 2 SAHM organizations this calendar year...MOMS Club and MOPS. I've met some wonderful ladies and managed not to become a total recluse. I've been challenged and refreshed and learned that, in spite of my talking about Will all the time because I love him so much and spend so much time with him, I am still my own person. I maintain an identity outside of him. I am who God created me to be on many levels, not just as a mom.
4. Our photography business has taken off! We're excited about all the new things we have done this clients, new events, new equipment, and new ways of doing business. Instead of a hodge-podge of things I have been wishing to get in gear my whole life, all my new years resolutions this year center around a do-able business plan. This is our passion and a large part of our hope for the future. A special thanks to everyone who has worked with us this year!
5. John and I celebrated 7 years of the best marriage around without getting the 7 year itch! Still best friends!
6. I turned 33 this year. The same age Jesus was when he died. So much accomplished in his short life (drastic understatement!). So what to do with mine? I learned a lot more about giving this year. Since monetary giving is often out, I learned a lot more about serving physically. Doing for others. Also appreciating the fact that I can, that I am physically and monetarily able to provide some of the little things that others might need. That work isn't bogging me down so I can focus on "more important" things.
7. I embraced simplicity. Fully participating in the coupon system, learning to make-do with what we often had at hand, still finding that we had more than we need, more than many others. Hearing about lavish gifts that others were planning to give at Christmas, it really hit me that I actually LIKE the way we do things. We don't go into debt or worry about how we are going to pay for all the presents. We don't agonize about finding the perfect gifts or need to run around like crazy to get everything done. Our Christmas is still full enough of presents, as are birthdays, Easter, etc.
8. FaceBook! Silly? Maybe. But anything that helps me stay connected to friends is a blessing. Maybe I waste a little too much time on a couple of my favorite games there, but coming from someone who always feels like I need to be productive, the down time is not only welcome, but much needed.
9. In spite of some rough and dark patches, we have managed to retain the hope that what God has placed in our hearts, He will provide for. We cling to our faith, believing, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 and "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

In spite of what kind of 2009 you had, may your 2010 be even better! God bless!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thankful Throughout the Year

My favorite Thanksgiving Day picture--Grandma Apple doing a puzzle in the floor with Will.

You may have noticed that I missed the entire month of November. Blog posts often run through my head, but the time and focus to sit down to write is not quite as abundant. For November, the month of Thanksgiving, I did try to focus more on being thankful. Since Will is old enough to understand the holidays a little better, I wanted to figure out how to impress on him the importance of being thankful. As in all parenting, I must lead by example. So here are some specific things I am especially thankful for...

Faith that tells me our circumstances are not forever
Hope that God will once again provide for what He has placed in our hearts
Will usually sleeps through the night :)
Though John's hours are unpredictable and downright yucky, he comes home every night, and isn't half a world away fighting a war or traveling often with his job
My husband works very hard (even though he doesn't get the credit he deserves) to provide for us so that I can stay home with my son
My son is not only adorable, but also Mr. Personality...I predict he will someday be the class clown
My parents are willing to drive 2 hours just to babysit Will when I need them
I have found a few other babysitters :)
I'm more acutely aware of the needs around me, making me more appreciative that I have exactly what I need, and much of what I want.
God allows me to help others. We don't always have the money to give, but I am amazed at the abundance of "stuff" I find that I can give to others in need. That may not seem so amazing to you, but this is coming from a mom who sold everything she could get her hands on at multiple yard sales to make money to bring home her little boy. I am frugal in my spending, more so with each passing day, so I don't buy a lot of junk. The junk seems to multiply!
Everyone who has encouraged us with our photography and let us take their pictures
Sneaking in Will's room and watching him sleep
The sound of Will's laugh
Will is basically potty trained!
A genuine smile on the face of my husband
Will has learned to say, "Yes, Sir." (And sometimes Ma'am.)

Now for Will. Since he began praying a few months ago, it is obvious that he has a thankful heart. We pray it stays that way! For the first several weeks of prayer, his prayers always ended with, "Now Daddy go to work." He misses his Daddy and that's big on his heart. While it broke our hearts, especially John's, we couldn't help but giggle when he said it.

But in spite of his growing and changing prayers, one thing has remained constant...Will's prayers always start with, and mostly consist of, the things he is most thankful for, in that special no holds barred way that only a child has. He is not only thankful for the things of the day, as you would think a little boy would be preoccupied with, but he mentions things that made a big impression on him months ago. For example, we only made it to 2 of his cousin's football games this season, but we have prayed prayers of thanks for those 2 games for at least 50 nights!

So here are few of the things that Will thanks God for, not just my speculations, but things that have actually come out of his mouth...
go to Josh and Steven's foot ball game
Steven (Josh's friend he's met exactly twice)
ride Papaw's golf cart
my golf cart
I play with my golf club and golf ball.
play outside
Joseph Beth
go to Mimi Papaw's
being ring bearer (which he's been begging to do again...actually shed tears over)
sing some songs (especially, Alright, Sideways, and Down the Road--He's a country boy.)
bird pooped on Mimi's car (we talked about that for months)
sit in Papaw's lap
Mimi Papaw coming
Will look good.
going on train tracks
read some books

May the spirit of thankfulness continue throughout the year. Why else would I be writing this in December ? ;)