In early December we had our first family photo shoot with my photographer friend, Anastasia, with the intention of sending out Christmas cards to all of our loved ones. And then I contracted meningitis and spent a few weeks recovering. And then I blinked and it was the week before Christmas.
It was important to me to have a real tree this year, with presents wrapped for Charlotte beneath and colorful garlands above. Happy childhood nostalgia, no doubt. I kept having visions of my Mom spending hours untangling beads every yearly tree-trimming. So we got ourselves a sorely overpriced tree, decorated it with mismatched ornaments and love, and somehow managed to purchase and make all of our gifts in enough time. We had a beautiful holiday, surrounded by loved ones, but not a Christmas card was sent. So I planned to share my favorites from among our family photos along with a few highlights of the past year.
When I began to catalogue the big events of 2014 I found myself stopping short, stumbling over the chronology, having difficulty thinking of the major changes. Honestly, there weren't many. There was one: we had a baby. We became a family. We are still growing into this role and yet it feels like we've always been this way. Was there ever a time without our Charlotte? 2014 was a year of growth for us. One year ago we were boarding a plane home from Maryland to Phoenix, excited over newly learning our little baby was a girl and feeling her first kicks. Now I look at my seven-month old child and shake my head in wonder. Where does time go? To what lonesome tree does it fly away and nest, bearing precious moments that slip through my fingers with every passing tick of clock and beat of heart? So we hold her close and I smile and cry when she says "mama" and "dada" for the very first time and when I lay her down to sleep and she looks immense among the shadows in the crib. This year was very long and very short. And we are more convinced than ever in the lovingkindness of our Lord and His everlasting faithfulness.
We have great hopes for 2015. Our hearts are ablaze with plans. God knows if they will come to pass. A theme I found running through 2014, and now hold dear in my heart is "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow." And so we enter a new series of tomorrows, strung up like so many lights. We do so with hope, bright hope.
"THEREFORE, HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THROUGH WHOM ALSO WE HAVE ACCESS BY FAITH INTO THIS GRACE IN WHICH WE STAND, AND REJOICE IN HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD. AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT WE ALSO GLORY IN TRIBULATIONS, KNOWING THAT TRIBULATION PRODUCES PERSEVERANCE; AND PERSEVERANCE, CHARACTER; AND CHARACTER, HOPE. NOW HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, BECAUSE THE LOVE OF GOD HAS BEEN POURED OUT IN OUR HEARTS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO WAS GIVEN TO US."
- ROMANS 5: 1-5