Thursday, December 31, 2009

357 Days

It has been weeks since I have been able to sit down and write, and I have missed it. So much has happened during this holiday season, but with all of the craziness, reflecting on all of this has taken a back seat to cooking, cleaning, packing, unpacking, wrapping, and unwrapping. As I sit here, this New Year's Eve 2009, I can't help but to get a little choked up as I think about how my life has changed this year. Eight days into 2009, at 9:53pm, the cry of tiny baby shrieked through the bright and sterile operating room. This cry rang in my ears welcoming a new and amazing chapter in my life. In one brief second, we were no longer a couple. We were a family. And, in the year 2009, my sweet little family of 3 has grown and changed with every single day. Since that day, January 8, 2009, I have experienced 357 days of bliss. I am not going to sugar coat reality. It has been hard. Each day has been challenging, and some completely frustrating, but even through the chaos and confusion, I have found myself happy every night when I fall asleep, and ready to smile every morning as I wake to the sweet little sounds streaming through the tiny monitor on my nightstand.

Watching Layla grow has been absolutely unbelievable. I have read all the books and have done all the research. I knew what to expect when I was expecting and I knew what to expect in the first year. But I never knew how I would feel through all of this. The only way to describe my feelings each and every day of 2009 is complete awe. I have been awed by a tiny blue-eyed girl. The amazement I have felt for her ever changing personality and mental and physical development has brought me to my knees several times. I sometimes think about Mary thousands of years ago, holding a tiny baby, listening to Him cry, and never, in her wildest dreams being able to imagine what He would do with his life. I know my tiny baby is not the Christ child, and I know she will never die to save the entire human population. But I know that Mary was a mother, just like me, and that just as she was amazed and awed by her son, and just as she was proud of everything her son did, I will be amazed and awed and proud of my daughter.

My hope and prayer for this New Year is the same this year as it was last year, and I will venture to say that it will be the same in each year to come - I hope and pray that Chris and I will be the best parents that we can be, and that we will teach our daughter everything we possibly can. I hope that our relationship as husband and wife continues to grow stronger with every smile and every tear. I pray that my little girl will learn about unconditional love by the strong example set by her parents. And I pray that we will never be jaded by the sadness and negativity that surrounds us. I hope that we will always find the beauty and happiness in life, and that we will always find a moment to show our gratitude for what we have been given.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Thrill of Hope

Have you ever truly listened to the words of "Oh Holy Night"? It is one of the most beautiful Christmas songs ever written, and I have listened to it and sung it a million times. I could recite the words on command, but last night, as I drove home from a quick trip to Wal-Mart, I actually listened to this song. I am not going to lie. I cried, and not just a few tears. And I did not have to come up with an excuse when I came in the house with watery and puffy eyes since I have a sinus infection.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'til He appeared, and the soul felt it's worth.

I guess I never thought about the worth of my soul, but to God, it is a valuable posession. I am just in awe thinking about the birth of a tiny child that put a value on my soul. This tiny baby made me worth saving. This sweet boy gave me the promise of life with God, eternally. The knowledge of this gives me hope...

The THRILL of hope, the weary world rejoices.

I have never thought of hope as thrilling until last night. Hope to me has always been a word I have associated with sadness and hard times. You always talk about hope in difficult situations as sort of a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is something you cling to in dark times. Hope to me has always been a quiet guide to a journey through a difficult situation, but thrilling? Really? Thrilling to me is excitement and adventure. I have never thought of being thrilled in the midst of sadness or fear. But from now on, I want to be thrilled. It makes challenges seem a little less difficult when you place an element of excitement on them.

On a small scale, I am thrilled with the hope of new opportunities for me and my family. This past year, minus one salary, has been a little scary. But thinking about it in this new light gives me the thrill of hope. I am encouraged by this new hope. I know that God has a plan for our family, and I know that if we are not hopeful, God's plan will not be fulfilled.

On a much larger scale, our society has fallen into a dark time. We are at war with other countries and ourselves. We are so concerned with making people comfortable that we do not challenge their beliefs and gloss over the fact that this season is Christmas, not "the holidays". The reason there are holidays at all is because of Christmas. And this Christmas season, I am filled with hope that we will share our message of why we have Christmas at all. I am thrilled in the hope that this world will no longer be weary, that we can all rejoice in the hope of this child that gave our souls worth.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the Angels' voices.

Though it is raining and cold today, this morning is new and glorious. It is a new beginning for me. I was taken to my knees last night, though not quite an Angel, Kelly Clarkson's voice carrying over my XM radio was enough to thrill me with hope for this holiday season and the year to come.