At the beginning of every year I pick a word that I feel is going to be something that I focus on for those upcoming 365 days. The close of 2015, I was 9 months pregnant with a deployed husband, an amazing job, but if I’m honest, a good amount of frustration and bitterness. Grace seemed like a good word to settle on for 2016. Grace is defined as, the free and unmerited favor of God.
2016: Emmaus was born and arriving a week early, Chris joined us on FaceTime for… 18 hours! It was insane. He did come home for two weeks which was such a blessing, but then returned to deployment for a remaining 7 months. Then course of the next 12 weeks I was exhausted, frustrated, bitter, confused and oh so emotional. Through spells of what felt like depression, God showed up as I spent time with him. His grace appeared through friends coming and staying the night and getting up with Emmaus so I could sleep, friends watching my baby so I could run an errand by myself, friends bringing food, sending encouraging texts. Grace for the moment. What I appreciate now about this time is that God gave me perspective that the beginning season was a defining one.
March brought on my first mommy scare- E had developed a sinus and potential respiratory infection and woke up unable to breathe. We were staying at a friends house and I began to try and suction her nose to allow airflow. Babies don’t know to breathe through their mouths early on and I didn’t know how to tell her to just breathe. She started to turn colors, eyes began to swell, “Beth! Beth! She isn’t breathing!” Beth came running in, accessed and started a steam shower. I felt like I had moments to get her to breathe and I was running out of time. “Jesus! Please, help her to breathe! Jesus! Jesus!” I cried out. I laid her down for one more attempt to suction and was able to get some movement, which allowed air to pass through her nose. That first breathe for her felt like mine as well. I barely slept for the next three weeks until all congestion had cleared, I was terrified. I would fall asleep quoting Isaiah 41:10 –Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. He did. Grace for the moment.
April I returned back to work to find the juggling process of working, pumping, nursing and quality time with my daughter. It was a whole new world and one in time I developed a routine for and just like anything, in due time it was normal. That time seems so distant and in a lot of ways I don’t miss it, but the biggest I do miss is the excuse for quality time with Emmaus through out the day. God showed me another perspective- she will never need me as much as she does right now. Grace for the moment. We also took our first flight together at 3 months old, I was a nervous wreck, I had no idea how to travel with a baby. I was so nervous I almost vomited right before boarding the plane. Grace- a female co-worker switched seats with someone to sit next to me and help me. When I arrived on the plane she was in the seat waiting for us and ready to help.
The months follow Emmaus and I really developed this bond. A bond if you are a parent you probably understand perfectly. But it was beautiful and it challenged me to want to be better, to teach her amazing things about herself from a young age. When I was able to at work, I would “wear her” in a baby carrier and just run all over the place to get whatever needed done. She became my sidekick and I believe to this day loves people and desires to interact with everyone because that is all she has known. What a trooper. I finally started to feel grounded and ok again. Talking to other moms helped immensely and I felt as if I was starting to get the hang of this new mommy world. Grace for the moment.
In June we took our first road trip to Tulsa, OK about a 6 hour drive. Two hours south of Tulsa, our car started making weird noises so we pulled over. After over an hours wait at a gas station, we were picked up by a tow truck to continue the remaining two hour drive with a nice southern man, Adam. I loaded E up in her car seat to sit in the middle seat of his truck, while he and I sat on either side of her. Time quickly approached for her bottle, which she had never taken full formula- I had always nursed and done a bottle. I prayed and without any hesitation, she took her first bottle of full formula. We had no issues on the drive, we arrived safely in Tulsa. A lot of things went wrong, but it all worked out. Grace for the moment.
July was the best, especially July 21st when we welcomed Chris home from his fourth nine- month tour! I ugly cried hugging him on the field. He cried. It was probably in that moment the most invigorating feeling to be a “whole” family. Seeing him and her together brought such joy. It felt like the completion of a race, a very long race. A race I hope I ran somewhat well in spurts.
The last few months of being a family and learning together have been the greatest thing and one of the toughest things. There have been days where we thought we had figured out routines, thought we had communicated differently about something or even just planned the day a certain way, to find it went totally differently. A few weeks ago I turned in my resignation at my job to be home with E and to be able to support Chris and our military community for a season. I have no idea what 2017 will bring, but I am excited to walk it out. I know He will provide grace for the moment.
Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
2016 has been an amazing and defining year in its own way! Thank you Jesus for carrying me and for all your blessings this year along with your grace! Did I ever need it!