It's March. I can hardly believe it, but it is. I try to keep up with all the balls in the air, but this blog is the one that drops. I really do like to write an annual letter. I like to look back and reflect on the year and all that God did in it. I want to be able to have a recap of my life at the end and see God's hand through it all. But, somehow it is already March and my January letter is not written. So, here goes another late, but necessary (to me) letter. If no one else reads this, it's ok.
Last year started out hard. Really hard. My pastor of 20 years left the ministry and moved to Iowa. People that I have gone to church with my entire life (and were like family) started leaving by the bus loads. Family members were in the middle of huge crisis that spilled over to everyone. Friendships were being destroyed by sin and misunderstandings. It was just hard. There were lots of nights spent crying and praying and trying to understand.
But, the really cool thing is to look back at the entire year and see how God had his hand in all of it. We often have to go through extreme brokenness before we can fully realize God's healing power. This has been a year of sitting (or laying down) in the pain and brokenness and just waiting for what God was going to do. There were times that I doubted God (like he hasn't proven himself faithful to me over and over again). There were lots of times that I didn't understand and wanted answers! But, now I see how HE had plans far greater and far better than I could have asked or imagined.
As our church went through the mire and sustained attack after attack by the enemy, God walked beside us. When we felt that didn't have the strength or numbers to carry out His plan, God gave us strength. When our hearts were broken and our souls weary, God refreshed us. When things felt hopeless, God was our hope. Praise you, Lord, for your faithfulness to me, my family, my church, your people!
It is incredible to see where my church is now and how God is using the people we never would have expected to lead our body. God is using the people who don't feel they deserve it to bring about revival. I see God's Spirit moving and stirring things up and I am so excited to be part of that. I cannot wait to see what he has for our future. I know "He who started a good work, will bring it to completion." I am humbled and excited that God has chosen to use me as part of His plan of redemption.
I also have seen God bring redemption in hopeless situations where families were torn apart. It is a source of encouragement to me and praise to Him.
Ok, now on to the boring details of the year. I just couldn't let that other stuff go without being said....
Cory is still working with Ripley's and doing a great job! We are very thankful for how God has used this job to provide for our family. There are still struggles in this area and we continue to look for God's leading and direction, but we are thankful nonetheless. He truly does love all the weird and wacky stuff that comes his way. We also enjoy some of the perks that come along with having someone who works in the attraction industry. We have been fortunate enough to enjoy trips and outings to several places we never would have been able to afford before. Cory also continues to volunteer at church in the children's ministry. He is faithful and is always ready to serve wherever God calls him. I truly appreciate his servants heart (even when it annoys me).
I started going through the certification process for becoming a doula in March of 2011. This has been a dream of mine for about 7 years and I have been practicing occasionally throughout that time. But, this was the year to make this dream official. It was a time consuming and rigorous process. But, I did complete my training and I am officially certified through DONA International. If you have no idea what a doula is, feel free to check out my web site at www.teamworkbirthing.com (yes, shameless plug and advertisement). It took a while for things to get rolling, but I am now working with about 1 or more births a month. I love this job! My kids are now old enough to stay home by themselves when I need to go to a woman in labor and there is nothing as great as being paid to do what you are passionate about! So, when I started this process and our mortgage modification was approved, I was able to quit my part time job at the children's resale store. I was very thankful again for how God provided that job for a time, but I was so excited to be able to come back home! My heart never left my home and I couldn't wait to be back. I'm not sure if my kids were as excited because they had received a lot of freedom and had been playing a lot of video games. I came back and brought to a screeching halt some of the craziness.
Morgan is in 7th grade this year. She continued to take classes at Circle 2 days a week. However, now she is taking core curriculum classes instead of the "fun" stuff. But, she has done wonderful! She is such a first born, rule follower, perfectionist that I don't even have to ask her if she has completed her homework. The only problem here is that the work I assign is not as important to her as her work from Circle. But, we are getting there. She is still extremely social and usually the life of the party. She loves to be a leader and looks for any opportunity to do so.
Avery is in 6th grade. Due to our financial situation, the younger 3 kids all stayed home full time for school. Avery was completely fine with this decision. She is still a homebody and loves to be where she is comfortable. She is officially a middle-schooler now and has been attending the Youth Group at church. She seems to like it pretty well and sticks close to her sister or the few girls she knows well. She continues to do well at gymnastics and did join the team this year and went to the state competition where she did great! Avery's favorite thing to do all day is to give hugs. She is my loving girl and is always looking for some affection. This is one of my favorite things about her. She continues to have a sensitive and soft spirit and her heart hurts when those around her are hurting.
Sydney is in 4th grade and also home. This year, she has discovered her love for football. She loves to watch (especially GA or NE) and play. She actually has a really good throw and we are looking for a flag team to put her on. Her questions never stop. But, most of the time she walks away before they can even be answered. Or, she will ask several at the same time and you don't even know where to start. She is very inquisitive but doesn't always care to know the answer. I think sometimes she just likes to hear herself talk :) She is a very passionate person in everything in life. If I had a tenth of her energy, I would get twice the amount done in a day.
Jordan is in 2nd grade. He is ALL boy and would love to have a brother (he actually would like for his cousin to move in with us). He loves to play with LEGOs, anything involving a super hero, swords, etc... He has mastered the art of jumping from one piece of furniture to the next so that his feet never have to touch the ground. He also made the decision this year to ask Jesus in his heart! He got his first Bible only a couple weeks ago as well. He loves it and tells me all about what he read for the day. He also has started to fine tune his wit. He enjoys listening to any adult conversation in order to add his own 2 cents worth in a way to bring about laughter. He really is a pretty funny kid and keeps me on my toes.
One of the books I have been reading lately is 1000 Gifts. This book has an amazing ability to help you change your perspective and see all the gifts that God has given you everyday, all around. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. For me, it has helped me to not take for granted the many (more than 1000) gifts God has blessed me with. It has helped me to slow down, look around and be thankful. I am thankful for all God has done over this past year and I am thankful for what He is planning to do in 2012!