Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking back at 2011

I entered 2011 with a word for the year, I felt the Lord directing me to the word "found".  I knew in my heart that I needed to be found changed in many ways.  I longed to be changed spiritually.  My life was in a dry place and renewal was one of my hearts deepest desires.

Today as I look back I can see huge changes that occurred throughout the year, not just for me, but my family as well.  Some things we walked through were pure joy and some were very full of pain.  Through it all I truly have found myself walking closer to the Lord, thankful and very full of hope for the new year that lies ahead.  I am counting my blessings and naming them one by one.

Our family was blessed with a year like none other.  Over the past ten years one or more of our daughters has lived out of state.  This year we enjoyed more visits than ever.  We started things off with an unexpected trip home from Beto and Lindsey in February.  They spent a few days here in Michigan getting a taste of winter weather.  This was a first in all the years they've been together.

In March we took a much unexpected trip to Dallas to be with Jenna after the breakup of her engagement only two months before her wedding day.  It was a difficult trip, but one completely set in motion by the Lord.  The month of May brought us back to Dallas, along with my 81 year old parents, to spend the week that would have been Jen's wedding.  We did plenty of celebrating that there was no wedding.  Along with the heat of summer August brought Dave back to Texas for two weeks of work and time to see the kids.

The fall brought us to Chicago to help Alfred and Alicia move in preparation for Alfred starting school for nursing.  After winning a free flight through Orbitz on Twitter we booked a flight for Dave as well and made a September visit to the Lone Star state for a few more days.

In November we found ourselves on the road for a 17 hour road trip for Thanksgiving.  This time the entire family, all five kids, Dave and I were together.  Although we were only there for about three days it was wonderful!

I never dreamed we would be so blessed to all be together again for Christmas.  All five kids came home!  It's been years since we've all been together for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My heart was bursting as I sat and looked at my entire family around the table on Christmas night.  My parents joined us as well and the tears fell as Dave thanked the Lord for everyone being together.

My photographer daughter knows the joy it brings to me whenever I get new pictures of my family.  Since we are so far apart the photos are treasures to me and I have them all over my  house.  Our Thanksgiving trip was the perfect time to grab a  photo shoot.  Christmas brought me a wonderful assortment of new pictures for my home thanks to Lindsey Joy.

Dave and I have had a good year.  Although the pain of being apart from Jenna during one of the roughest times in her life was huge, we saw the Lord peeling layers of blinders from her eyes and bringing her into a new and better life.  We found a new church to attend and after years of being one of thousands we are now two in the midst of what I call our church family.  This has been a huge answer to my prayers.

I am more than blessed to have such a wonderful guy by my side.  He sees me through the good and the bad.  There is no one I'd rather walk through this life with.  He loves me so unconditionally that at times I feel so undeserving.  He loves his kids and is a devoted dad.

Beto and Lindsey have had a year blessed with their business growing and continuing to prosper.  They love being photographers and do an outstanding job at it.  We couldn't be more proud of their hard work and talent. They have been married for more than six years and are totally and completely in love.

Alfred and Alicia have had a year jammed full of work, school, work and more school.  Alicia continues to thrive at her job at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  Her long commute baffles me, but she never complains.  Alfred has just completed his master's degree while working up to three jobs around the clock.  This next year will be a whole new challenge as Alfred has been accepted to nursing school, another answer to many prayers.  They have been married over three years and are also a beautiful mirror of what love and marriage should be all about.

Jenna's year has been so life changing it's hard to put into words.  After getting through the breakup of her engagement she's found herself busy with work and attending the University of North Texas.  She's happy and thriving in her life.  We look forward to seeing what's in store for the new year for her.  She will be moving back in with Beto and Lindsey in a couple of weeks while she's paying for college.  We feel blessed to see her life heading in a good direction and to know she has family that loves her and are there for her during this season in her life.  We miss her like crazy.

Here we are at the end of a very full year.  I feel as though the Lord has filled my cup to overflowing.  The moments spent with my family have been the ones that have seen me through.  I've learned to live life and enjoy life with my kids all far away, but there is still nothing as sweet to a mom's heart as being with her family.

I am thankful for the blessing of family, the most important thing to me. It's a crazy bunch we have filled with much laughter and love.  I'm so thankful for sweet memories to keep me going until whenever the next visit might be.
Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you have found yourself changed during 2011 and may you find all that the Lord has ready to bless you with in 2012.