My friend, Evi, is a much better writer than I. She set up a gratitude challenge around Thanksgiving to get all of us to really think about what we're grateful for - and to be grateful! She had some questions on her blog to help us reflect on this past year and look ahead to 2015.
1. Looking back, what (and who) am I grateful for this year?
Of course, I'm grateful for my family. My incredible husband who has taken care of us and put forth even more effort while I've been dealing with nausea, vomiting, and lethargy with this pregnancy. My children who are driving me crazy today (can it warm up so they can run off some energy?) but who also drive me crazy with their love and sweet cuddles. I LOVE these kids. I am grateful, too, for this budding child inside my belly. July can't get here soon enough!
What I'm thankful for could be any sort of material thing. I have so many things I'm thankful to have, but they are just things. I am really thankful for the time friends have spent on me this year. For my friend Kim who unfailingly will pick my kids up when I am unable (even with mere minutes' notice), my friend Rachel who always has an encouraging word, my friend Linda who is always up for a walk with me, my other friend Linda who has spent much time teaching me the art of quilting, my friend Kara who has opened her beautiful home to me just to talk, my friend Stacey who takes even the smallest amount of her limited internet time to message me and encourage me and challenge me through her blog. There are others, of course, but my limited brain power only works so fast lately.
2. Where have I felt true joy?
I have found true joy in these moments of clarity with the Lord. When I feel His presence, when I understand something about His Word, when I get to worship with my church family, when I feel His words and convictions penetrate my heart. That's my true joy.
3. What has challenged me?
Honestly, being pregnant has challenged me. A lot. I do NOT take well to being sick. I do NOT take well to not being able to work out (makes me queasy). I do NOT like change. Seriously, who talked me into having another child? Just kidding. But it's been really hard for me to step back and not feel guilty or angry at all the things I cannot do right now. I don't like having my husband do all the dishes (not because I love doing dishes - ha - but because that's part of my responsibility). I've worked really hard to become the wife, mom, and homemaker I am and to have that all ruined (even for a short time) is incredibly hard.
It's not like I haven't been pregnant before but I was at different places in my life. And where life has been really good, it's just hard for me to step back and be ok with that. But I know suffering (even this small kind) produces perseverance and that's what I'm holding on to.
4. What has troubled me?
My inability to look beyond what I want. My selfishness continues to wreck havoc on areas of my life because I am short sighted. I really need to work with the Lord to open my eyes to His eyes.
5. When did I have time for renewal and pause?
Ha! I feel like this has been the busiest year. Even with my kids in school full-time and a very part-time job, I have felt overwhelmed more than ever before. My renewal and pause comes mostly when I run and that's not always renewing, of course.
6. Have I noticed God in any of this?
I, more often than not, fear that I ignore God more than I rest in Him and His presence. I can go about my day so easily without Him in my first world comfortable life. And that's why I am so thankful for this new challenge of new life. Never in my past have I relied more heavily on the Lord than when I've been pregnant and with a newborn. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me over and over realize my need for God and my dependence on Him. I am so thankful for that. I hate that I can so easily overlook Him in the good times (even though I know I'm not alone in this). Normally, I would hate for hard time to come, but this time, I am looking forward to that (and really relying on that now). I need God and I need the reminders that I need Him.
7. In light of all this...what is my response moving forward?
I haven't been grateful for the Bible and the ability to read His word without fear of retribution like so many Christians in dangerous countries. And so I've set the goal, lofty even for me, to read the Bible before this baby comes. That's about 6 months and that will be a challenge. I don't want to read it for the sake of reading it but really enjoy that I have the Bible to read. To challenge myself more I'm also reading it in the KJV translation which is more difficult for me to follow sometimes.
I also have realized I've been slacking in the teaching of my children about the Lord. We do talk about Him, but it's not been consistent. My boys and I were talking about prayer and I thought it so sweet that Squirt asked me to write a little prayer for them to go in their lunchbox (along with the joke I normally put in there) to encourage them to pray at lunch time. He balks most of the time when we read the Bible or Bible stories so this is encouraging to me. I want to read the Bible with them and talk about it with them. We read Genesis 1 yesterday and it wasn't a deep theological discussion but it was fun and nice and good.
Happy New Year all!