1. I have learned that there are friends that will give, even when you can not give in return. This past year... Really, a year and a half, have overwhelmed our family. It's taken longer then I expected for our life to feel manageable. It started a few months into the girls pregnancy as we lived a life where I could seldom leave the house and could not do anything to take care of my family. I had good friends that would show up at night to sit with me and provide female companionship. They would come bearing the gift of my most recent pregnancy craving without me even making the request. They helped Blake manage the children at church while I lay at home on the couch... I literally could not do anything for them beyond pray. For a year it has taken everything in us to simply care for our family.... To spend adequate time with our individual children. To load the dishwasher or put up the folded clothes. These friends still showed up at night... They cared for their children all day, put them to bed, and then came and walked the floor with mine. They understood that life was all we could manage... These ladies requested nothing from me. I was a terrible friend, but even knowing that, I knew that I could do nothing differently. I was called to be a wife and mother first and that has been all I have been able to poorly manage this past year. And yet they still call, text, write notes, ask me to sneak in a lunch... They are a gift... A blessing I hope to somehow repay one day.
2. I have learned that almost everything can wait. You should have seen my kitchen last week. For like most of the week. Dishes in the sink. School stacked on the counter. You would have thought that I would have rushed to clean after our 2 teething babies went to bed. If I'm being perfectly honest, that is what I wanted to do. But instead, I watched Babar with my big kids. I could speed through the grocery store in an hour, but I'm learning that the extra hour it takes if I take Riley with me is worth far more. I think when you literally don't have time for it all, when you have to truly prioritize... I realized that grilled cheese and tomato soup is a compromise I can make to spend nap time making q-tip paintings with Will, Riley, and Emery. They would rather have that to eat then my healthy chicken and asparagus anyway. Pause. Slow down. Sit a little longer. Listen a little more attentively.
3. I have learned to give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to be on time. Ok. I like to be early. And I am organized. At least I always thought I was... And then life changed. Sometimes I just assumed that the excuses were just a line. Then life changed. When someone tells you that they are late because their baby had a blow out diaper as they were walking out the door... Take it from me! It happens! When someone tells you they forgot it was their week to bring breakfast to BFG - even though they wrote it down on, oh, I don't know, maybe 2 calendars? - it happens! Things happen people! There were days my hormones were crazy, and therefore I said crazy things... I didn't mean them. I basically couldn't control them. I now thoroughly understand what pregnancy hormones and lack of sleep can cause a person to say. My feelings are not going to be hurt by the exhausted new mom that says she likes my hair long - after I cut it short. I've been there. I understand. Now the mom that says that with a well organized household and who is sleeping through the night? I probably wouldn't take it so well. :) But I am learning that simply assuming that someone is late simply because they slept in, isn't compassionate. We haven't been late this past year because we slept in. We haven't really slept. At. All. Things happen and I think the Lord has really used this past year to plant a compassion in my heart that was lacking before my life became total chaos.
4. I have learned that if you live a life of gratefulness, life is more enjoyable. There have been some hard days these past 12 months. I'm gonna be honest. There have been more "hard" or "long" days then easy ones. In fact, our new "easy" is still kind of hard. But those "long" days? They have been good days. I was a very dis-content person for many years... And about 2 years ago the Lord began to really work on my heart in the area of gratitude. The timing of his plan is always so perfect, because had He not started this work several years go, this past year could have been... Well, I'm gonna be honest - it could have been almost miserable. We are talking about 2 babies and 5 kids 5 and under, people. But the Lord knew that! The Lord knew the season He was bringing our family into and graciously began to prepare my heart in advance. I had already begun to attempt to put into practice a life of gratitude. I don't do it well, I don't live it consistently enough, but on the days I do?... I am so thankful for the little bodies wearing the clothes I can't bear to complain about the laundry. When I am thinking rightly, I look at our first floor strewn with toys and praise God for giving me a house full of healthy children. When we have had to spend money above our grocery budget for the 12th month in a row, I find myself grateful for the way the Lord has provided for us to do that. It has been a long year, but it has been a good one. It has been a precious one.
The Lord certainly used this year to burn somethings onto my heart... I feel like this year - for me - has been a bit of a painful learning experience. The Lord has really brought a humility into my life that was lacking. In the past I almost prided myself on having things together. It's impossible to be that person this year. He took my ability to be the stable friend. He filled our life with wonderful things that have caused us to be late... So I'm putting 'pen to paper' so to speak - because I don't want to forget the things he has done for me this year.