This Time Last Year

Hello blog friends! I'm afraid to say we're nearly strangers these days, but the proof may be in the pudding...My intentions to update the blog are so strong, but my follow through is not. Typically a nap or just ten minutes alone wins out! Anyway, I'm happy to be tapping on my keyboard just a little bit on this Friday morning and I'm sort of in the mood for a little flashback.

I dug up some fun pics from a year ago! I find myself looking backwards in my iphoto library a lot. I enjoy seeing what we were doing a year ago but mostly I just marvel at the way our kids keep growing. I like to tell them that despite what Mommy tells them NOT to do, they insist on getting bigger and I don't like it! That always makes them giggle and Carter usually tells me "But Mom, I have to get bigger! God keeps growing me up!" I suppose that's true, but it is simply amazing how fast these early years go, even though I swear some days seem to never end, right? 
This is truly the season of long days and short years! 
 A year ago Carter was adorably cute.  He still is, but look at that baby face.  I could eat him up with a spoon!  I also can't help but notice the mischief in that little smirk...yep, that still hasn't changed  :) 

Last year at this time he was freshly potty trained and we were cautiously confident that we could go anywhere without fear of an accident.  For the most part that was true!  He did great.  We were also in the middle of the 3's, which I happen to think is the hardest year.  The temper tantrums, the unreasonable thinking, the desire for more freedom and the longing to do everything "by myself" makes for an exhausting year.  When I think about how far we have come in the obedience realm, I am grateful. We survived a hard year and I see fruit in him every day from the struggle.  We still have lots of training and forgiving and patience to extend to one another but we have turned a corner with Carter and I love the little boy he is.  He makes me laugh and he is funny! He is also very affectionate and snuggly and for sure he is ALL BOY!  He never stops moving.  
And speaking of growing up, look at how little Ava looked last year! She was 4, about to turn 5 and she's got that same baby face in this picture, although at the time she looked so old to me. Last year we were loving Preschool with her and enjoying the ways that stretched her and grew her. She played school every single day at home, mimicking her teachers and roping Carter into being her student. I wrote on a million "line leader" slips of paper for every toy or doll or name she could think of. She religiously carried ziplock baggies around the house for months, pulling out a name to see who the "line leader" would be in her next imaginary game! We got such a kick out of that! Preschool was a wonderful thing for Ava and she loved every minute of it. 

I spent so much of last year worrying and stressing about Kindergarten. We weren't sure where we would send her or what the Lord would have us do. It was a major exercise of my own faith to lay those anxieties about my baby girl at the feet of Jesus and ask him for wisdom while confessing my tendency to worry rather than pray. It's so good for me to remember that season last year and to now see how the Lord has answered those prayers and paved a path for Ava that has been good. Kindergarten has been great and we are pleased with her school and especially with her sweet teacher. We see how the Lord is using us to be a blessing and to love a whole new group of peers and families and also how He's used new faces and friends in Ava's life too.  It's been a learning experience for all of us, but He has been so faithful through all of it. 
Ava was so excited and ready to have a baby in our family and she spent lots of time mothering her baby dolls in preparation. She was a wonderful helper through my pregnancy and the whole thing was very exciting for her. I knew she would do a great job as a big sister again and I was right.  She has been so sweet and it's amazing to me how much more she can help me with a year later! 
Last year I was worried about Carter feeling left out when Walker would be born but I'm thankful I don't see that struggle in him so far. He adores Walker and spends the most time playing with him. I got to spend a lot of one on one time with Carter last year while Ava was in preschool and what a blessing that has been to both of us this year.  Carter has really grown up this year and is doing a great job as a big brother.  
 Last year we were trying to imagine how different it would feel to add another baby to our family after a few years of it just being the 4 of us, and yet now when I look at this picture of them, I immediately think "Where is Walker?"  I can't imagine life without him and I love having three kids. 
 It's especially odd for me to look back last year and remember how much pain I was in. I was in the end of my second trimester and my SPD had gotten much, much worse. Walking was a problem and even worse, sleeping. I do remember crying and thinking I would never survive that pregnancy and that I could not be a good Mother to Ava and Carter because it was so hard to do anything. I'm sure there were quite a few hormones influencing that train of thought but the pain was real and so were my ever increasing limitations. Last Spring was HARD for me but this Spring I am so thankful and so grateful for the product of all that pain, our precious Walker. He was so worth all of it!
It's interesting to look backwards and think about the things that kept us up last year...Some of those fears never happened, some were not really a big deal at all, and some were completely imagined. I remember my Mom talking me through some stressful things in college and saying to me, "Steph, in 24 hours will this really matter?  Or in 6 months, will this be over? Is it really worth all this stress??" I've always tended to jump 20 steps ahead into worst case scenario thinking and a healthy dose of perspective is usually the remedy I need. God has seen us through this past year and He's taught us so much. He has stilled our fears, validated some things we prayed about, answered us in ways we weren't expecting and has poured out his spiritual blessings again and again as we've remembered to act on His Word and His promises. As our kids grow up and as I look back and see the seasons that have already fallen out of our grasp, I often think "We are doing this, Lord. You are seeing us through and meeting our needs and life is happening whether we think we're ready or not." 

So here is my deep thought for this Friday morning...God is faithful and He is all we need!

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