Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new appreciation...

I now have a new appreciation for the role of a single parent. My soon-to-be 3 month old daughter is sick, very sick, with her first cold, and never before have I been so grateful to have a partner in this journey. It's made me wonder how single parents survive when they have no one to lean on and give them some relief! Dr. James Dobson refers to single parenting as the "toughest job in the universe," and I have to agree. I don't know how I would manage if I didn't have my husband to help me out, give me a break, and worry alongside me.

So here's to all you single parents out there... may you be blessed beyond measure for the difficult role you have in caring for your children on your own. And to those who know a single parent... may you be challenged, as I have been, to offer help, support, and love!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Love List

It's Friday, and that likely means my friend Sharon will be blogging her traditional "Friday Love List"! I look forward to reading it, and sometimes create my own. Since she hasn't yet posted hers... I figured I'd do one first!

1. A good cup of coffee.
2. Cuddles with my 12 week old.
3. Watching my husband play with our daughter.
4. Emails and phone calls from home.
5. Reconnecting with old friends.
6. Mondays - our day off together as a family.
7. Baking and creating things in the kitchen.
8. Making our house a home.
9. Blogging, writing and putting my creative juices to work.
10. Playing Wordscraper with the Rachels (two of them) on Facebook!
11. Good movies.
12. The perfect picture (photo).
13. Warm socks, comfy PJs and no place to go for the night.
14. Inspiration.
15. Celebrating silly holidays (did you know today is National Nothing Day?)

What do you love?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Parenthood: the Lesson of a Lifetime

I recently enrolled in the hardest class of my life. The teacher? My daughter, Abigail. My mother always said that children end up teaching you much more than you teach them, but I never really believed that to be true until my daughter entered the world. At two months of age, she’s already opening my eyes to new things each day, and teaching me more about myself and what truly matters in life.

I’m learning to find pleasure in simple things. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you have children. Through my daughter I’m discovering the world again. Things I’ve taken for granted, like the intricate details of my fingers, the glow of a lamp, or the way shadows dance on the wall, I’m seeing again through Abbie’s eyes. Suddenly the materialism of the world, and the need I once had to be entertained by the latest gadget or movie, have been replaced by the joy of watching my daughter discover the world around her.

I’m learning to take time to play, and rest.
Before my daughter came into our lives, my husband and I were on a roller coaster ride of busy schedules, and overloaded lives. But something about having a baby has forced us both to re-evaluate our schedules, to slow down and take time for fun and rest. The life of a baby is simple, play, eat, sleep. Nothing more is needed, and through Abbie we are learning to take time simply to stop and rest.

I’m learning that I can’t do it on my own.
I’ve always prided myself in being an independent woman, able to do things on my own and rely on no one. But when I gave birth to my daughter, I was suddenly met with the reality that I can’t do everything on my own. I’ve had to learn to ask for help, express need, and rely on the fellowship of others like never before. And I’m learning that that’s okay. We aren’t designed to travel through life alone.

I’m learning to give up control.
I love control. I am an organized perfectionist, and my home has always reflected this. I live by schedules and routines, and make lists and rely on calendars to organize my life. But when my daughter came into my life, suddenly the control I once had was gone. No longer could I obsessively clean, or live by a tight schedule of tasks and activities. I’ve had to learn to relax, even with a sink full of dishes! This doesn’t mean my house has turned into a mess of laundry, clutter and chaos, but it does mean that I’m learning to accept that the dusting may not get done, or that I may not always look my best.

I’m learning just how selfish I really am.
I never really considered myself to be a selfish person until Abbie entered my life. But it turns out I am. Each day my daughter teaches me to be selfless; to put her needs, and the responsibilities I now have at home, above my own needs. I knew this would be the case in theory, but putting this into practice day in and day out is hard. I’ve found moments when I’ve resented my inability to do my own thing. Through Abbie I’m learning the joy of selfless devotion and sacrificial love.

But above all else, I’m learning to trust and pray.
Never before have I felt so inadequate, so out of control, so overwhelmed, and so dependent on the Lord. I’ve always been someone deeply rooted in my faith in God. I’ve seen Him do amazing things, and have trusted Him in times when my husband and I struggled through deep valleys. But the birth of our daughter has tested my faith in ways I never imagined. Each day I’m forced on my knees, crying out to the Lord for wisdom, patience, peace and selfless love. And each day He rewards me with the smiles of an infant who has taught me more in her few short week so of life, then I have learned in my 35 years on this earth. She’s the best teacher I could ever ask for, and I look forward to many more years of learning as I cling to God’s faithfulness and trust Him for her future.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A year in review...

I read this on Sharon's blog, and then on Meghan's. I enjoyed both of their reviews and agreed it was a good exercise in looking back before looking forward.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Got pregnant and had a baby! What a shock and life-changing event that has been!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't really make resolutions, but rather focus on a theme for what I want to work on or focus on for that year. 2008 was a year of "discipline" (see my post on it). It didn't turn out the way I thought it would, due in large part to the baby we found out was on the way not long after the year began, but it was a year of discipline none-the-less.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! Me! LOL. Aside from that, several women I work with had babies in 2008.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, but there were several deaths last year that made an impact on me. The first being the sudden death of a close friend's husband. Another being the death of a member from our church. And the final one being the death of Steven Curtis Chapman's little girl, Maria. In each case, I saw God move and learned about His faithfulness in times of storm.

5. What countries did you visit?

Only the USA.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A better sense of God's calling in my life and in our life as my husband and I take stock of the past year, ponder our future and seek His will for us when it comes to our family and our ministry.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 18th - the day I found out I was pregnant (read the story here).

May 21st - the day Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter died, made all that more poignant given that we had just learned we were having a girl.

October 22nd - the day our baby girl was born.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I'm going to sound like a broken record through this review I think! My biggest acheivement in 2008 was carrying and delivering a healthy baby girl!

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not trusting God enough when my faith was tested.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope. I was the healthiest I have ever been while I was pregnant. Amazing huh?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The family portraits we had done for Christmas. Never thought I'd live to see the day that our family pictures would be more than just me and my hubby!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My husband's. Through the labour and delivery of our little girl he was my rock. (See more here.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I'll have to think that one through. Nothing comes to mind at the moment.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Again... the baby!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Once I got over the shock of it all, I'd have to say that our little Abigail Joy got me really excited! ;-) Our trip home for Christmas, to introduce Abbie to my family, is also high on my list of excitements in 2008!

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

"Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman for the reasons stated above.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:?
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

Happier, surprisingly thinner (especially given I just had a baby 2 months ago) and poorer thanks to the newest addition and my maternity leave!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

More time with God; more time with friends; more quality time with my husband; more time resting in God's faithfulness rather than worrying about the future.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Again, less worrying about what I could not control.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In Ontario with my family, as we celebrated not only the holidays, but also my parents 40th wedding anniversary.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

Yes. All over again to the love of my life... my husband and friend of 11 years.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Not one, but several. Heroes, Prison Break, Fringe, NCIS, and The Big Bang Theory top the list.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


24. What was the best book you read?

"What To Expect When You're Expecting" - yes, really. It was a God send as I waded through the pregnancy and tried to understand and look ahead to all that was happening to me.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Can't think of anything.

26. What did you want and get?

A family; a baby. Still can't believe I'm writing those words.

27. What did you want and not get?

A trip to Europe (specifically Italy) for our 10th annivesary. Instead, we had a baby.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

"The Dark Knight" with Heath Ledger. Amazing.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 on the 25th of February. One week after finding out I was pregnant. Best birthday gift ever.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Comfortable and roomy. ;-)

32. What kept you sane?

My husband. Again, he was my rock; my parents, and everyone who prayed me through 9 months of a high risk pregnancy.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Did I "fancy the most?" Ha ha. Hum... Steven Curtis would be on the top of the list. I'm also continually intrigued by the Jolie-Pitts.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I hate politics, but the US election (while irritating towards the end) was fascinating to watch unfold.

35. Who did you miss?

My family; my mom. Having a baby will do that to you. I hate being so far away.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

No one comes to mind, but I'm sure there is someone.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

That God is faithful. I knew this, of course, in my head, but 2008 was a year that tested my faith and taught me, in ways I wasn't expecting, of God's amazing faithfulness.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

From Steven Curtis Chapman`s song, `Bring It On.`

Now, I don’t want to sound like some hero
‘Cause it’s God alone that my hope is in
But I’m not gonna run from the very things
That would drive me closer to Him
So bring it on