This year has been quite eventful–the birth of a beautiful daughter, three additional trips to the hospital (not counting the frequent ER visits with the kids), the short-sale of our home in Oklahoma, and all of the daily joys and trials that come with a family of five. These experiences with my family have taught me many lessons that I want to think of as I leave 2009 and enter a new decade with the chance to love and live better than the year before.
What I learned from Caleb:
Dance, Dance, Dance!: Caleb, you aren’t afraid to express your feelings, even if it’s by taking your clothes off on a whim or doing what you have coined as the heiny dance. I don’t understand what goes through your little mind sometimes, but I know you have fun, and you love life. My prayer for you is that I never dull the fire in your soul with my rules, and you never lose the joy and passion for life. I hope to learn from your example and dance a little more often (but with my clothes on).
Stand Up for Those You Love: One of my proudest moments for you was when you snuck a cookie for your sister. She was punished, and you were given dessert, but you couldn’t stand to see her go without. This instance was one of the first where you showed you really loved your sister (something I knew all along but you recently discovered!) You reminded me that while none of us is perfect, I need to see the good in my family in the midst of all the chaos and punishments that ensue!
What I learned from Hannah Grace:
Pray Without Ceasing: When your brother was sick and had fallen asleep on the couch, you knelt down beside him and prayed, “Dear God, thank you for our food. Please help Caleb to feel better. Amen.” As a two-year-old, you had the compassion in your heart to notice another in need, and you knew to bring that need to God. You prayed without prompting from me, and I am amazed at your child-like faith. I want to be as good an example of faith and reliance on God for you as you are for me.
Give More Hugs and Kisses: Hannah Grace, you are never without a hug or a kiss for someone. When you wrap your arms and legs around me like a koala and plant a big, sustained kiss on my lips, I feel like I must be the most wonderful mother in the world. I could live in that feeling all day long. I do a pretty good job of hugging your brother and sister and you. However, I could probably bring a few more smiles to your Daddy’s face if I hugged and kissed him as often and with the same intensity as you kiss me.
What I learned from Chloe:
Smile: Chloe, you have the most amazing smile in the world. When I see you smile, I feel a warmth spread throughout my chest, and every night I thank God for the blessing He gave me in you. You are not stingy with your smile–you share it with everyone you meet, and by that simple gesture, you spread joy, even if only for a moment. I want to spread happiness the way you do and be the kind of person with whom others want to share their company. A smile is the perfect start.
Relax!: My sweet little girl, God knew what I needed when He gave me you! You are so laid back–you go with the flow. Fingers in your ears, down your throat, in your eyes–you name it–you take it in stride. You love your brother and sister and rarely cry when you’re mishandled. You don’t take much to keep happy. I, on the other hand, am constantly full of stress. While I have learned to let things go this year because I simply can’t do it all, I am not happy about my inability to get it all done. This year, I want to ‘let go’ fully. While I’ll continually strive to find better ways to accomplish all that goes into running our home, I want to learn to relax when the kitchen floor is sticky and clean clothes are still waiting to get put away.
What I learned from Matt:
Simple Acts of Kindness Can Go a Long Way: The little things you do like making me a cup of hot chocolate or clearing the table while I fall asleep on the couch after a stressful day show me that you still love me even when I’m not lovable. You continually teach me about unconditional love, and I want 2010 to be the year when you feel showered with love and kindness daily (because I know I didn’t send enough love your way in 2009).
Work Hard–Even if No One Notices: Matt, you have amazing integrity and an admirable work ethic. You don’t always get the recognition you deserve, but you press on without complaint. I work hard, too, but I complain. I want to follow your example of working not for the praise of man but for my father in heaven.
To my family: I love you! You make me a better person, and I want to be the wife and mother that you all deserve. I pray that 2010 will be a year where God gives me the strength to endure when I am tired and, more importantly, the reminder of all the reasons for joy that I have–reasons to smile every day!