Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Annual Post of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and while this year I have found myself just generally more grateful for the blessings in my life - Thanksgiving is definitely a time to be intentional about that gratitude. After all, giving thanks for the abundance and blessing in our lives is the whole reason that the holiday was established in the first place (even though our culture would have us believe that it's about turkey & football).

"But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that's what they mean by 'Thanksgiving,' Charlie Brown." - Marcie from the Peanuts gang
So... what are some of the things that I am thankful for in 2011?

I am thankful for grace... When you allow grace to become a driving force in your life, it is amazing what can happen in your relationships with others. For example, a little while ago Steve came to me to talk about something that he knew would bother me but that had to be addressed. Under normal circumstances, I would have freaked out and let my emotions get the better of me. How dare I not be taken into consideration! How dare he not put me first! But I looked at Steve and saw someone who was humbling himself and coming to his wife in a step of healing and hope. Selfishness and anger would have just damaged our marriage if I had reacted so poorly; to react without grace would have made Steve think that he could not come to me to discuss things that need to be discussed. I intentionally allowed grace to rule my actions... and the result was understanding, discussion, healing, and love. That is just one example of how I have seen grace transform a situation from something potentially awful to something potentially beautiful. I am thankful for grace.

I am thankful for access to great healthcare... I think that in the US, decent healthcare is something that we can easily take for granted. However, being pregnant has given me a renewed gratitude for the level of healthcare that we have in our country. At nine weeks, I called our OB and left a message with the nurse because of some symptoms we were having. After a brief conversation, they brought me in for an emergency appointment, examined me, discussed what they saw, answered our questions, and issued instructions. Things were fine - but any time I've had a question or concern I can just call up and they are there to respond. There are so many countries in this world that do not have this easy access to good healthcare... and we should not take it for granted. Not for one second. And if able, I would encourage you to find an organization that provides healthcare to less fortunate regions of the world and support them with financial resources, supplies, or your time.

I am thankful for my wonderful husband...  The other night after getting back from signing our will/health care proxy/power of attorney papers and then finishing the update on our family finances, Steve looked at me and said "See? Didn't I tell you I would take care of you?". I looked back at him and said "I married you because I knew you would". Let me make this clear - it's not just our finances where he takes care of me. Steve is there every time I have a success to cheer me on, a failure to help me see how to improve, a bandaid when I cut myself (usually cutting veggies...), and to catch me when I fall (usually quite literally). He listens to me talk through things, holds me when I cry, laughs at my stupid jokes, is willing to work through both of our shortcomings, and tries to protect me from things he knows will hurt. Now... he's not perfect, and neither am I. There's no such thing as a perfect person. But he's pretty darn good to have as a husband and best friend; we could lose all of our "stuff" and money tomorrow... and we'd still have each other, and he would still take care of me. I am grateful for him every day.

I am thankful for our Little Person... As of today, I am 16 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Not a day passes that I am not incredibly grateful that God has blessed us with a child and that I pray for our child to continue to grow and be healthy. It is absolutely insane to think that Steve and I are going to be parents, and it's crazier to think that God is trusting US with the duties of parenting. I am so thankful for the opportunity to love on this Little Person, help them to learn the ways of the world, and just grow our little family. I love the moments when Steve gets close to my growing little bump and starts talking to him/her... "Hi, Baby!". It is such an amazing time for us right now, and I am cherishing every moment of it.

Those are just some of the highlights of the things that I'm grateful for this year. There are others, of course, but I only have so much room in a blog post.  

What about you? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Make sure to take the time and reflect on the blessings in your life this weekend!!!

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Been a While...

I realized this morning in the shower that it has been quite a while since I posted on my primary blog.

Why is that?

Well... it certainly wasn't that I didn't have anything to say. In fact, I had quite a bit to say. It's just that I wasn't saying much of it out loud. And it was hard to do that. So I just avoided it all together.

You see... the thing is: We're pregnant! Last week we released the information publicly as any modern-day couple would by posting the ultrasound picture on Facebook. It certainly was an easy way to get the word out and an exciting way to get lots of encouragement at once. In fact, even as an outside observer to other people's lives on Facebook, I love celebratory announcements. Pregnancies, engagements, promotions, weddings... if it's worth celebrating, I love when people are bold enough to put it out there and invite others to cheer alongside them.

Celebration is good.

At any rate, as of today I am 14 weeks, 5 days pregnant with our Little Person and I wanted to share with you a few of the things that pregnancy has taught me (so far... I have a long way to go and much more to learn). Some of these things I knew and pregnancy just made real, others I'm learning as I go.

Little Person at 9 weeks, 3 days old.
You can't tell from the picture, but he/she was a tiny dancer the day this was taken too.

Grace is Essential: When people find out that you're pregnant, they immediately get excited. When are you due, how are you feeling (with dirty looks or "you're so lucky") when you haven't gotten sick, are you finding out the gender... all sorts of typical questions. At that point in the conversation once the basics have been reported and excitement has been established, either the conversation continues in a normal fashion or some sort of borderline inappropriate behavior happens. Sometimes this takes the form of an unwelcomed stomach rub, uninvited pregnancy advice (that doesn't apply to your pregnancy), or an order about what you should or should not be doing.

Here's the thing - people do these things because they care. Responding in a face-ripping manner cuts their heart. If something that someone does in their care and excitement bothers me, then I need to have grace with them. I need to calmly explain why it bothers me, politely ask them not to do it again, and express my gratitude for their excitement.

Confession here is that this is totally against my sarcastic nature, but I recognize that and am working towards the graceful response rather than the snarky, cutting response. Pray for me.

Patience is Required: I want to meet my baby NOW. I want to feel his or her soft skin and fuzzy baby hair and yes - even change the first diaper. However, God has designed us so that the miracle of life takes up to 40 weeks to happen. This means that I do not get to meet my baby now - if I do, the baby is not in a good place and of course I do not want that to happen. And so, I must be patient. I wait patiently for the first kick, the next doctor's appointment, and that magical moment when I give birth to our Little Person sometime next spring. I rest in God's plan for pregnancy and know He designed it this way for a reason. Besides, if I can't be patient now - how am I ever going to manage parenting?

Husbands are Amazing: Not that I didn't already appreciate Steve, but there's something about having his wife pregnant that has transformed something in him. Maybe it's because I'm carrying our child, but he is really shining as a partner in the marriage since we found out we're pregnant. In listening to other wives talk about how their husbands were, I know that this is not a unique thing to just Steve. Husbands are wonderful; they are strength when we fall apart, they are a hand to squeeze when things hurt, and above all they want the absolute best for you and the child you are carrying. Steve has been to every doctor's appointment we've had (even relatively inconsequential ones), has jumped at opportunities to do every small thing related to baby, serves me at any opportunity, watches out to make sure I'm taking care of myself, and even took the initiative in getting us pregnancy books. He is my partner, lover, best friend, companion... he is amazing.

BFFs - Jamaica 2011

Reliance on God: Nothing in my life has taught me about the importance of relying on God the way that pregnancy has. I can fool myself in all sorts of areas that I can solely rely on me; financial success, reaching goals, and gaining knowledge and wisdom are just a few of the areas where I can make myself believe that I am completely in control. In those areas I can think that I earn my money (rather than God blessing me with resources), that I create my own destiny (rather than trusting in God's plan for my life), and that I can seek and gain wisdom & knowledge (with any guidance from the Holy Spirit) all by my onesies. However - only God can grow, develop, and perfect the little miracle that is growing inside of me right now. Are there things I can do to assist because the folks that God has gifted with medical knowledge have done the research and know the "right things" for pregnant ladies to do? Sure. But at the end of the day, Little Person is in the hands of God right now. He is knitting our Little Person as I type this (Psalm 139:13-16).

I know I have a long way to go before Little Person arrives and several milestones to hit, but I feel incredibly blessed with the lessons that I have already taken from this experience. Before we became pregnant, I was just excited to have our first child. But now that we are - I am excited at the experiences and growth that come along with being a parent, start to finish.