10 things I’m thankful for about 2014

Here are 10 things I am thankful for about this year.

  1. I’m thankful for our precious daughter Eva! She is a joy and delight to us every day. I love watching her learn new things as she explores her world. She is such a happy little girl, loves people and also sleeps well most of the time, which is a wonderful blessing.Eva!
  2. I’m thankful for my husband’s perseverance through a difficult year in his job, his unwavering support through pregnancy, watching him love our daughter and for his grace and patience towards me as we have worked through the challenges and changes that parenthood brings together.
  3. I’m thankful for the support of our families here in Sydney. Not everyone gets to enjoy that, and so I really try not to take it for granted. We have loved watching our families embrace our little one, and have also appreciated a few nights off in the last few months, knowing she was in good hands.
  4. I’m thankful for the way that both of us having babies this year has brought my sister and I closer. Although we live about 50 minutes drive away from each other, the wonders of WhatsApp have meant that we’re in pretty regular contact. She has been a great source of support as we have started walking this motherhood journey together.
  5. I’m thankful for new friends in my local community in the same life stage. I have loved getting to know the other women in my mothers group. I know that not every group gels particularly well, but I feel really blessed that ours has, and I hope those relationships continue to grow even as many of us go back to work.
  6. I’m thankful for the support of friends of old too. I have so many dear friends that I can turn to for support, prayer and advice. One of the blessings of the year has been getting together most Wednesdays with some of the girls I went to school with, who also have kids – some a little older, and some the same age as Eva.
  7. I’m thankful for a year of maternity leave from my job which has given me space and time to enjoy this new chapter of motherhood. It is a unique time in both of our lives and I count it a privilege to be spending my days with Eva.
  8. I’m thankful for the opportunity (now that Eva sleeps better during the day) to start doing some sewing. So far I’ve just made some simple little outfits for Eva, and also a pram liner. It’s quite satisfying being able to produce something that she can wear over and over again.
  9. I’m thankful for the ways that being Eva’s mum challenges me personally. Motherhood can be hard and relentless, especially at times when baby won’t sleep or is sick. But it’s also incredibly rewarding and purposeful. It’s very tempting for this task-driven mumma to get so caught up in ticking things off the list each day, that I forget to just stop, and enjoy spending time with my daughter. I’m still learning, and I suspect I always will be.
  10. I’m thankful that amidst all the changes and challenges, God has not changed. Before Eva was born, I posted about the encouragement I found in remembering that God knew what my May, June, July and beyond looked like. He did. I had nothing to be afraid of. I am thankful that though I may struggle daily to be faithful, that doesn’t change the fact that his love is perfect, he is good and he is sovereign over our lives.

What are you thankful for about 2014?

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the gift of community

“Who knows other people in their local area who can help out when the baby arrives?” said the midwife.

In a room of about 15 couples, all about to have their first babies, we were the only ones in our antenatal class to put our hands up.

I know in some cultures it’s common for the grandma to come and help out for a few weeks, months or even years. And so I know that a quick survey like this doesn’t paint a full picture of people’s lives and support networks. Nevertheless, the thought that some of the people in the room might have to go it alone as they adjusted to being parents made me feel sad.

Without our church community, our hands would have stayed down too. But it’s now two and a half weeks since our baby girl arrived and I haven’t had to cook dinner since before I went into labour. We’ve had delicious fresh homemade meals delivered by people from church several nights a week, as well as a small stockpile of frozen meals in our tiny freezer for other nights. As well as the meals, we’ve received thoughtful gifts and several of the local mums are contacting me regularly to check in on how I’m going.

Our friends and family from further afield have been a great support too. One friend brought over an amazing hamper of goodies, including some homemade cookies, muesli bites and camembert cheese. And many people here in Australia and in our wider community of friends reaching across the globe are praying for us It’s so great to know we’re not alone and that our little family is in God’s strong, loving hands – both now in these early weeks, and also into the future. We want to raise our little girl in community too.

As I sit here watching our little girl wriggle and gurgle, I wonder how all the other couples in our antenatal class are going, and I pray that there are people in their lives who are supporting them through this big, challenging and exciting time.

He is already there

There’s less than two months to go until our baby is due. According to the books, my Facebook feed and the weekly Baby Center updates, we should probably have the nursery fully set up and stocked with hundreds of nappies, singlets, wipes and baby toys by now. It’s not.

It’s tempting to get caught up in planning the physical aspects of bringing a baby into the world. Of course there are a few essentials to buy and borrow. I keep wondering what my life, our life, is going to be like with a baby? Life beyond May (when our little one is due) is a great unknown. It’s one thing to watch close friends with their new babies, but I’m pretty sure it’s rather a different thing to have your own. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very excited. I can’t wait to meet her. I’m just also rather nervous about bringing a new member into our family.

It was such an encouragement to be reminded on the first night of Colour Conference, (now a couple of weeks ago) that God goes before me – before us. He is already in our April, our May, our June and beyond. He knows what the birth will be like, he knows if she’s going to be a good sleeper or not. He knows her. We are all in his mighty hands.
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As I was first writing this post, sitting on my own in a food court in Market City (opposite the Conference), one of the volunteers from Hillsong sat down opposite me with her dinner. We shared a little of our stories (Hayley was fresh out of high school in the US and loving her first semester of Bible college) and how we were enjoying the conference. When I shared that I was expecting a baby, she immediately offered to pray for me and our bub. She got out of her seat walked around next to me and put her arm around me and prayed. This lovely young woman I had only just met prayed passionately for our little girl to grow to know and love Jesus as her Lord and Saviour and to calm any anxieties that I had about this new chapter. I was deeply encouraged by her bold faith and her loving prayer. An experience I won’t forget.

Another human

My belly is larger than it has ever been and I felt an affinity with a mother kangaroo with a joey in her pouch the other day. I’m six months pregnant.IMG_6163

Despite this fact, most days I have to remind myself that in a few months time I’m going to have to give birth to a baby. And from that point on I’m going to be a mum for the rest of my life. Sure, there are lots of reminders. People asking me how I’m feeling or how far along I am (to which the usual reply is “You’re tiny!”), the regular loo trips, the sometimes fluttery, sometimes forceful movements from within day and night (including as I write this) and an often unexpected level of exhaustion.

I feel like I’ve been dreaming of and looking forward to this season of life for many years. I loved looking after my little cousins when they were babies and in recent years have cherished getting to know our goddaughter and her little sister, my friends’ new bubs and the many delightful little ones who are or have been part of our church. Always such a joy, but never quite the same as having your own.

Even so, it’s a bit hard to believe that it’s our turn soon. I have sometimes wondered if it would ever happen. On the one hand, I assumed and hoped for it at times over the years, but then once I found myself in this season, I realised I couldn’t assume anything – it was totally in God’s hands. Now there are only about 90 days until our little lady will be with us on the outside – a reality that’s hard to get my head around. I find myself taking note of ‘Best Before’ dates on food and thinking, before due date or after due date. My brain may be weird, but this is just one of my little ways of getting accustomed to the changes ahead.  IMG_6187

Ultimately I’m humbled that, God willing, we will have the joy of bringing another life into this earth to raise and care for. Not everyone gets to do that. I can’t wait to meet our little one. And if I could have spoken kangaroo, I would have wanted to say to her, “Me too.”