“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Christmas. It’s that time of year when the end draws near and my contemplative nature kicks into high gear. I love to think back. It is always easier to see the past clearly than to view the future with ease. I’m not sure what it is about this time of year, perhaps it is the natural closing of one year’s chapter and the opening of another, but the season practically inspires retrospection. And so I look back.
There is that smile again. That boundless zeal for life. So many pictures capture Ellie’s enthusiasm. I just love that look. Our year started out with her first birthday. It is amazing how much a little person can grow and change in three hundred and sixty-five days. We thought that she would be walking by age one…but when spring rolled around and she still wasn’t walking the doctor picked up on her flat little feet and sent us off to a specialist. We were told not to worry, just to keep an eye on them as she grows; most toddlers have flat feet. I would’ve totally preferred not to have to see a specialist at all; but God has a way of testing our ability to trust Him time after time. Well, once she started walking it wasn’t long before she was running. She is such an outdoors child; the first day that we set up her swing set she was outside in the cold dark night testing it all out. She is such a climber, I call her my little monkey; her aunt takes her to gymnastics once a week and it has been so good for her! She is always talking about ” ‘nastics” and her “leotard”. As I said before, Ellie’s enthusiasm is an inspiration on the difficult days. And the meaning of her name has helped me to remember just Who the Lord is even in the midst of difficulty. God is my helper.
I wish I didn’t have to gain a whole new perspective on this truth about Him this year. The fact that so many would rather avoid and chose not to acknowledge is that life is not easy. I don’t mean to be all depressive and sad this season; I know for many it is a time to focus on the blessings and happiness. But really, life is not happy all of the time. If we never acknowledge the difficulties of life, how can we appreciate the positives? There are things that we walk through we would never chose for ourselves. But how else are we to learn Who He is unless life teaches us?
So I’ll admit. This year was hard for me. My school closed early this year as it faced large budget cuts; I spent the whole summer trying not to worry about not having a teaching job to go back to. I didn’t know for sure until August…so it was a long summer of attempting to avoid my anxieties and fears, which for me is not easy. My middle name should probably be Anxious. Klayton was back and forth between several jobs for the first part of the year, and even though that didn’t bother him it stressed me right out! I like consistency, I like security, and Klayton doesn’t seem to be bothered about either. He is much better at trusting His plan than I am. I had been planning on starting graduate school the summer of 2014; but for multiple reasons I’ve had to let go of that dream for now, which was very hard for me. And just when things seemed to calm down…they stopped. There are some things that I wish nobody ever had to live through. Watching a parent walk out of a marriage is one of those things. And so the theme of my life has become one that is lived in continual forgiveness, loving as He does, and resolving to not allow myself to become depressed by the brokenness that surrounds me. God is my helper. Through the situations you never want to be a part of. In dealing with the change and the unknown He is my helper. Constant in the trial and the change, this one thing remains- Your love never fails. So even in the midst of heartache, I chose to focus on the truth. No, this year has not been easy. Yes, I will hold fast to the truth that no matter what God’s love exists…and I will continue on in this knowledge. Acknowledging the difficulty makes remembering the positives so much sweeter.
I asked Klayton what his greatest and worst parts of the year were. On the top of his list were the two weeks we spent in Washington followed by finding out that Ellie wasn’t going to be an only child. He said that his worst were that he still works in the heat of summer and cold of winter; but that seems to be God’s choice for him for now. We truly had a busy year. It seems like even now we never really stop going…there is always something that needs doing, someone that needs helping, things that need fixing…but we hold the hope within our hearts that someday He will return and we will have all of eternity to rest in His goodness. For now, life goes on around us. Amidst the busyness there are always those days that come just when you need them. We took Ellie to the Ecotarium this summer and it was a nice little adventure. We also spent a day at the ocean, which Ellie greatly enjoyed. We spent time with friends and family, took a couple of camping trips, and enjoyed our beautiful yard (and all of the yard work that comes along with it). And while it doesn’t seem like any of these things are extraordinary or exciting, that is life for you. Sometimes it just is.
Amid all the trials, big and small, I am constantly amazed by the consistency of the Lord. He never promised us that life would be easy. I never thought that I would say this, but really, I am glad for the struggles, for the trials…because they cause growth and change. And while change is certainly not easy, the troubles of life shape and form us into the people that God wants us to be. Still, He continues to shape. This year I have learned more about the provision and love of God than I would have if we had never experienced any of the hard things. Though my attitude through it all has not been perfect, and I haven’t always trusted as I should God has a way of taking our weaknesses and turning them into strength; and so through His strength we are perfected. Looking back. I can see the beauty now.
Yes, what a year it has been. Not an easy one, but as I said. That is life. Klayton and I both have jobs, we have a home that we love and work hard for, we have family and friends who love us through our struggles, we have cars, and food to eat, the ability to take our daughter camping and on fun little trips… A perfect year? Absolutely not. But a good one even still. And perhaps the greatest part of the whole year is being able to experience it and live through it together, with our Ellie. Never would I have imagined just how your entire perspective on life changes when you become a parent. But seeing the world through the eyes of a child has been an immense gift. That smile of hers. It reminds us of the hope that God has promised us. And soon we will have two of those smiles to remind us every day of what really matters. Ellie is just catching on to the whole “brother” thing instead of “baby sister”. While Klayton was super excited to have another baby, I was not excited about being pregnant again. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. But being pregnant with Ellie was not what I would call fun. This time though, was so much better, much to my relief. I was half as sick and half as depressed and anxious as I was the first time around. But with all of the heartburn and skin breakouts I just had a feeling that it wasn’t a girl this time…and I got my wish! Just about three months more and baby boy will be here. Now we just have to teach Ellie his name 😉
Perhaps it is partly the season, but reflecting on this past year I am impressed by the peace that has surrounded us even through the hard parts. And so, even in all of the struggles and trials I find myself resting in the peace that only He provides, this season, and every season. We pray that you too will know His joy and peace through the hope that only He provides.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a year abounding in hope through the Holy Spirit; with love,
Klayton, Alicia, Azrielle, and Baby K