Can y'all believe 2008 is coming to a close?!?! Wow.
So much has happened this year that I can hardly process it all. WHAT A YEAR!
The year started off relatively normal, but progressively got more interesting...read: difficult, exciting, emotional, etc...
me with Hope in January
Monk and I went on a little mini vacation to Tennessee and Virginia at the end of March and had an OH SO WONDERFUL time together (we had the Hopester with us too). That is when pregnancy suspicions began to arise. Tests kept showing up negative, but Monk kept saying that my emotional state was showing up positive! Oh, he is a sensitive one, isn't he?
Then, on April 1st I got the big ++ sign!! How appropriate. April Fool's is the day a couple of old fools find out their expecting again. Hope was 8 months old. I was only a smidgen freaked out. Really. Just a smidgen.
Then in May we bought Phil the Suburban. We have loved and adored him ever since. I used to scoff at built in DVD players in vehicles until I took a vacation with one. My deep and abiding love for Phil grew even more after that trip. And I am no longer a naysayer of technologically advanced gadgets that mesmerize children into obedience on long road trips.
Phil. The Legend.
June, July and August proved to be some of the most difficult months I have EVER endured in my entire life. We left our church that we had attended for MANY years (Monk over 40 years and myself 12 years). We loved our church and our friends there and it was the single most difficult decision of our married life. I cried for 3 solid months. The pain still resonates strong as ever on occasion, but God has been gracious in the healing process. I've missed my friends the most and frankly, have lost most of them because of it, but I have come to accept that God's ways are not, nor ever will be, my ways. All was not lost though, and through that difficult situation I have learned so much more of God's grace and His plan for our lives. And in the midst of that terrible time God brought new friends into my life that have loved me and blessed me in ways I could have never imagined. God is good ALL the time! Now if I could just remember that in the midst of the storms!
June was also the month that Monk and I celebrated 10 wonderful years of marriage!! I LOVE THAT MAN!! We celebrated by loading of the 3 smallest kiddos of the bunch and headed to Galveston Island for some much needed R & R. It was a GREAT trip!
Four people I love and adore
July was the month I celebrated my 39th birthday. We don't really need to discuss that number anymore although I have come to accept it as some sort of martyred badge of honor. Whatever. But Monk did buy me all the seasons of Reba on DVD and that soothed my bruised, wrinkled ego just a tad. That Barbara Jean is such a stitch!
Oh yessss! Reba goodness!
In July I also made the annual pilgrimage to my mom's in Tennessee. I have a deep love for the hills of Tennessee and it speaks to my soul every time I'm there. Monk and I have discussed moving there on several occasions, but God seems to be keeping us here in the heart of Texas. For now I'll put the beautiful broken down barns and rolling green hills behind me and keep loving and enjoying my life here in suburbia. But I will never love this heat. Never. Or the Cowboys for that matter. But that's fightin' words with the In-laws so I better not go there on such a public forum. Ahem.
July was also the month of my sweet baby Hope's 1st birthday!! Time flies WAY too fast that first year. She was rather antisocial that 1st year of her life, but after she turned 1 something changed. She has progressively become a loud, attention-seeking Monk like the rest of us. Except she's a lot cuter at it than say....Monk.
Too cute! And the little one ain't so bad either!
August would be the month that we acquired The Beast. Harley arrived at our house on August 13th and our lives have never been the same. Nor have my blinds. This 100 lb. lug has made me crack up by swimming in our pool with the girls and has made me nearly cuss by jumping in my blinds. His big, floppy jowls make ya wanna say, "awwww", but his menacing ability to chew anything and everything in a 100 foot radius is quite annoying. Harley graduated at the top of his obedience class, but he's still on probation in my book!
August was also the month that we started attending the church that we would eventually join. We were blessed to find a community of believers that had much to teach us. Our first Sunday there I counted 14 pregnant women not including myself! Finding a church that embraced children as part of the service was important to us and it thrilled us to no end when we walked in the doors to see families worshipping together!
September was relatively calm (that's not sayin' much around here). Me, Monk and Hope took a little jaunt down to Austin (Hook'em Horns!) where we were privileged to attend one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies ever! It was a much needed respite for me with all the emotional turmoil I had been through in the previous months and it was actually a turning point for me in a lot of ways. The cloud of depression that had hung over me for so many months began to dissipate and I began to see God's hand in the midst of our lives.
October was chocked full of excitement. We had a grand time and consumed a grand amount of calories at the State Fair. The Great Barbie Massacre of '08 occurred and Monk and I attended the wedding reception of my wonderful friend Keri (who was also the Austin wedding). It was a themed reception and folks dressed in their favorite era. Monk and I dressed in togas. Not because it was necessarily our favorite era, but because it was the only thing that could accommodate my growing girth! It was, however, a grand time! And Monk can SO pull off the whole Caesar thing! Except I doubt Caesar had bifocals in his glasses.
It would also be the month that My Boy moved from my house to live with his dad. That was, and still is, very hard. I miss him terribly and he's only 5 minutes from me. He's such a momma's boy and I am most definitely an Enabler in that role! But as my only male child....I always enjoy the break from all of the estrogen.
November was a month of preparations for our new arrival. We kept the month low key on purpose. We joined our new church and began making new friends which was a wonderful blessing. This was also the month where an awesome peace came over me concerning my labor and birth. During the month of November I just enjoyed being pregnant and simply put...didn't worry. Little did I know when I took this picture that there would be another little red head to add to the end!!
And December 3rd fulfilled all of our anticipation with the birth of our sweet Charlotte. Her beautiful (and humorous) arrival was the joyous ending to a seemingly neverending year. All of the difficulties melted away at her birth. The year was a long, difficult trial, but I felt SO blessed by God by this time. I couldn't see Him at work while I was in the valley, but now I certainly saw His hand working in every aspect of our life. Charlotte will always be a reminder to me of the refining that God did in my life during the year 2008.
2008 will always be a painful year to remember, but it will also be a year that we were blessed beyond measure. Blessed by a good and gracious God who is full of mercy and grace in our darkest times.
I pray you all take the time to reflect on this past year and thank God not only for all your blessings, but for your trials as well. These are the things that shape and refine us and ultimately make us to be more like Him.
I hope y'all have a safe and Happy New Year!! See ya next year!!