My old college friends nicknamed me “Happy” (mainly because of my maiden name) but I don’t feel like I always live up to the nickname. While I don’t consider myself an unhappy person, I will admit that it is easy for life to steal my joy. I can get bogged down by stress, I worry about things that I shouldn’t, and my mind can concoct a worst possible scenario so quick, it’s terrifying. I’m not proud of it but that is my disposition. I have a hard time remembering that most of the time, my life really is full of good and happy things!
2015 started off with us announcing that we were expecting our first baby. From February to April, my husband finished his doctoral dissertation and searched for jobs in education administration. I half-heartedly searched for daycare options. I enjoyed my job as a teacher but my heart was longing to stay home with our new baby. It wasn’t an option for us at the time but I prayed and prayed for God to make a way. Of course, He did. At the end of April, my husband got a new job! We had to move but I would get to stay home with our baby. My heart’s deepest desire was granted to me!
May was a whirlwind with Stu’s doctoral graduation and moving. The buying/selling process turned out to be much more stressful than it originally seemed, but God ironed out all the details in time and provided for us along way. We spent June settling into our new house and exploring our new town. On July 3rd, our little boy was born. God was faithful there, too. I was diagnosed with a serious complication from preeclampsia but the delivery went smoothly. My little boy was only 2 weeks early and he was healthy! The rest of the year was settling into parenthood and my new job as a stay-at-home mom. Snuggles, kisses, and staring for hours at his sweet little face took up most of my time. And of course, the holidays were so much more fun with a baby around our house.
Last year, God poured out so much goodness on us all at once! It felt like a flood. Sadly, I got overwhelmed in this flood of goodness and sometimes forgot that all of these things were the answers to prayers I’d been praying for a long time. They were good gifts and sometimes, I grumbled about them. I prayed to God for a new opportunity for our family and then griped about getting our house ready to sell. When we hit snags in the closing process, I was super stressed. What did I think? That God was going to move us all the way out here and then just leave us homeless? Yes, that is what I worried about.
Immediately following God’s provision of our home, God made me a mother. And I cried about how hard it is. Yes, I cried a lot. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I didn’t know it’d be this hard. Colic was awful. Sleep-deprivation can convince you that you’re crazy. And, I was suddenly aware that no matter how much I know about babies and kids, I don’t know anything! Everyone told me conflicting information and I realized that I have to find my own way. I’m a “by the book” kind of person who had to face the hard fact that motherhood is a “by the seat of your pants” kind of life-style. It was a frustrating realization. And through all the crying and frustration, I was holding in my arms a miracle of a little life. For shame.
I started off this year feeling pretty convicted about it. If God can bless me so much all in one year and I can still find things to complain and worry about, what am I going to do when the storms hit? What am I going to do when we face a tough year?
I’m so thankful my God gives more than just gifts. He gives grace! He knows me. He understands that the flesh is weak. He knows that motherhood is difficult. But, He also knows that in the struggles, I’m growing. He’s making me more like Him. I have a long way to go but if He’s in the business of refining me, I don’t want to resist it. I don’t want to stay in this same place without progress.
This year, I want to count my gifts more than I count my gripes. I want my thoughts and my actions to be a true reflection of my sincere gratitude. Above all, I want my story to give glory to my God, the giver of all those good things. And the giver of even greater grace.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” -James 1:17