Wow, I cannot believe today is New Year's Eve 2014!
Every year about this time, most people sit back and reflect on the year past, as well as look to the year that is to come.
We make plans, goals, have get-together's to bring in the new year, cry, laugh, and even get angry about where our life may be. It was both a good and bad, easy and hard, year. Mostly hard.
To be honest, 2014 was hard.
It was quite possibly one of the most difficult years of my entire adult life.
This year, four people I love with all my heart went to be with Jesus. I lost my Oma, Mother-in-Law, an Aunt on my husband's side, and a niece on my husband's side. While I rejoice that all four are with Him, my heart's hole is still fresh, is still raw, and is still hurting. We have already been through a bunch of the "first year" milestones, and yet there are so many more ahead in 2015. I know with each day, week, month and year the hurt will diminish and I am so grateful that we who are left here on Earth, have amazing and wonderful memories to go back on and share with one another. I am not angry that they are gone, but miss them. I know because they are with Jesus, and because my hope is in Him alone, that we will be reunited with our loved ones. Until then, I remember: Oma's baking and hugs, Mom Rempel's quilts (of which we have several she made over the years), the smiles of an Aunt, and the musical talents of a niece. I am so glad each of these four people made such an impact on me, each in their own way. I will never forget them, and forever cherish them.
It was hard for us as parents as our oldest struggled to move past an anxiety disorder, and was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, helpless in how to properly help her gain confidence. I personally felt like I had failed her. I know that is not true, but that is where my heart was at the time.
We struggled in becoming better parents and moving from one stage of parenting to a new one. It took some struggle for me to truly embrace my role as a mom of two school age children and all that comes with this new stage. I fully admit some days were hard. Very hard. I struggled a lot with my "baby" starting school full time this year.
We struggled to find a place in our church community. We attend a large church and sometimes felt like a little fish in a big sea. That is what happens in settings like this. But God was faithful and good came out of the struggle.
Yet there was so much good in 2014.
We saw friends and family challenged to come to a saving faith in Jesus at each funeral that occured, we know these women impacted more people than we will ever realize, and we move on despite pain in our hearts. We have seen many friends and family ask questions about faith, God, Heaven and we know that while decisions for Christ have not necessarily been made yet, seeds have definitely been planted. We were reminded that Hope is in Jesus, our Lord.
We saw our oldest child, diagnosed with Selective Mutism only in January 2014, move on to a new school, make friends, go on play dates, and talk loudly to both students and teachers (this had never happened in the four years previous in school for pre-k to grade 2). We have seen her thrive and grow into a beautiful, God loving, 8 year old. We have seen her confidence grow immensely through performing in Kids Choir at church, taking piano lessons and now wanting to learn the violin. She has grown in leaps and bounds. Testing boundaries but making me a better mom every day.
We saw our "baby" start school full time. This was very difficult for me. I thought her starting Kindergarten would be tough, but I think grade 1 has been even harder. Yet, she amazes me in her growth, only half way through the school year. She is learning to read, making friends, and recognizing her emotions. She also is strong willed, like her sister, but I love that she is learning to take ownership and admitting when she is wrong more than she has in the past. The best part of this year for her was having her accept Jesus as her personal Savior in March 2014.
Parenting is still hard, and I know it will be a journey, just as it is for all parents. But this year was a milestone year for me especially. I am not sure what exactly prompted a new mind set, but I feel like I am finally embracing my true purpose as a Christian mom. Yes, its only taken eight years. It's not that I haven't loved being a mom before this, but I finally stopped looking at being "just" a WAHM (work at home mom) and looking at motherhood as a ministry. I realized that in the season of life that I am in, being a mom is truly a ministry I need to be proud of, and embrace. And God has blessed me with two beautiful children that I did not think I would ever have (for those who don't know my history, I struggled with infertility for almost five years) and it is my role to raise these beautiful girls to love, follow and obey Him, who gave them to me.
We saw ourselves getting more involved with our church, most recently we were able to to serve as a family during three Christmas Eve services last week. My girls and I were angels, and my husband, a Wise Man, in the live nativity (which also featured a Llama!). We were so honored, more than anyone realizes, to have been asked to volunteer. We are so glad we stepped out of our comfort zones (if you know me personally, you know how much I despise getting up in front of people, even in a non-speaking role!), so we could be a part of telling the story of Jesus' birth all those many years ago. I am glad that I have been actively involved with our Ladies Bible study program and am meeting more and more wonderful women, who influence me more than they realize. I look forward to how God will use the church we attend to teach us, and how He will use us in this church we call home!
Yet there is HOPE.
There were so many defining moments in 2014, but these are what stood out most to me.
I don't have a clue what 2015 holds but I do know that I am going into next year with a strong desire to do His will, regardless of where that may lead me and my family. Over the last three years I have used a "One Word" as a guide for my year, as I plan goals, etc. This next year my "one word" is INTENTIONAL. This is a loaded word and already I see it working out in some amazing ways.
It is my prayer to you that read this, that regardless of how 2014 finishes, good or bad, that you hand it over to Him, who is complete control, so that 2015 will be the year of transformation and intentional living. However that looks for you.
Blessings, and Happy New Year!