When February blew in this year, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of celebrating we have to do! Isn't that a beautiful thing?
Rob had a birthday. I met Rob at 32 years of age and married him a year later. We celebrate ten years of marriage this year. These years have been quite an adventure for us. We are both grateful, almost to tears, at the way God has transformed our marriage, our parenting, our life. Financially, we always struggle. I used to be sad to say that. Now, as I see the way those struggles have grown us, united us and forced us to make really difficult decisions, I am grateful for them. I am thankful for a husband that has endorsed our choice to be a family first and everything else second. It has not been an easy road, but continues to be a worthwhile one. I am thankful for a husband who works hard, not only is he in the business of manual labor, but he NEEDS to be customer focused. Sometimes for this shy guy, that presents it's challenges, but as his wife, I like seeing him stretch and grow. He stepped waaaayyyy out of his box this winter to assist a dear friend in coaching basketball for Emily's team. I am proud of him. His relationship with Emily has deepened tremendously. Watching him love on those kids and try to learn something he knows nothing about really blesses me. The kids on the team made him cards for his birthday...I watched him open each one. There is nothing quite so humbling or precious as the heart of a grown man evolving right before you.
I think the biggest celebration for me, is the milestone of 50 happily married years for my parents. I adore my parents. Adore! They raised us well. They made mistakes, I am sure they did, but I cannot, for the life of me, think of them. My aunt asked my mother what she loves about my father - his undying faith, his work ethic and the way he has always "taken care of everything". My father said that he loves my mother's unbridled compassion. If you knew their story, it would seem unlikely they'd be as warm, compassionate and selfless as they are, but God truly had a plan there and I am so grateful my brother and I were part of it. Mark and I hosted an intimate dinner party to celebrate with them. I had originally desired a huge splashy party with all their friends and relatives...God's plan to honor them looked different, and I am so thankful. We all enjoyed the tender closeness of our immediate family...it felt like home. My parents were overflowing with gratitude and we could not have wanted for more. Happy Anniversary, Mommy and Daddy, we love you so much!
And February 1 brings the anniversary of the day we heard the words, "We have your referral. Your daughter is from Jiangxi Province and her name is Xiao Wei Feng." I saw her face for the very first time and knew without a shadow of a doubt she was meant to be part of our family. Hannah has taught me about love in ways I never dreamt. I am wildly protective of Hannah, while also being able to see her in her rawest form and accept and appreciate every little nuance that makes her Hannah. Hannah is lovely, from her adorable little gap in her smile to her dimples that melt even the hardest of hearts; but it is her soul that intrigues me. Her perfect olive skin may captivate my eyes but her depth, breadth and complexity inspire me and make me a better mother than I ever imagined being. She and Emily fight, but that same passion that makes them competitive, makes them fiercely devoted to one another. Hannah lends her sister strength and tenacity, while Emily softens the rough places and teaches her younger counterpart about grace and mercy.
Nothing can ever prepare us for the sheer joy of motherhood. It is as close a glimpse of heaven as I can imagine. SO today, I am thankful for the man who helped me become a mother and his life that we celebrate, for the mother and father who raised me to be who I am, and their fifty loving, faithful years together and for the daughters who continue to bless, stretch, refine and keep me accountable. God blessed me when he allowed me to carry one below my heart and carry the other within it...both ARE the very heart of me.