As we approached Thanksgiving this year, Tricia and I attempted to reminisce about last year's Thanksgiving...only problem was, as hard as we tried, we could barely remember just a few fuzzy details about it. As we moved closer to Christmas, we realized that we couldn't remember much of Christmas 2008 either.
This time last year, Tricia was just coming out of several months of chemo, and was still in the early stages of her transplant recovery. We were still "new" parents, adjusting to life with a little one who was still completely dependent. We were living with my parents and had just bought our first home, and I was spending several hours each week working on renovations. It's not wonder we can't remember much else...
2008 was a year of incredible stress and hardships in our lives. But, as I read My Last Blog Post of 2008, I am also reminded that it was a year of miracles, gifts and blessings. In comparison, as I look back on 2009, this year has been a time for us to use those same miracles, gifts and blessings to give to others.
For the first time during our marriage, Tricia spent less than a week in a hospital in one year (in fact, I can't remember the last time she spent less than several weeks in the hospital). For the first time in our marriage, we've gone more than a few weeks without a scheduled doctor appointment or an unexpected trip to the ER.
2009 has proven that our lives can be, comparatively speaking, "normal". We traveled more this year than ever before, unhindered by medical equipment and doctor appointments. We spent more time on the beach, walking around our neighborhood and just enjoying time with our friends and family than we could have ever imagined before the transplant. We found our groove as parents and have rediscovered what the word "routine" means.
We do not take for granted all of the people, most who are complete "strangers" to us, who have spent hours praying for our family, all of the cards and gifts that were sent our way while we were living at the hospital, all of the encouraging emails and blog comments. Because of the blessings we've been given and the freedom we're now experiencing, we find ourselves in a place where we can return the blessing to others...2009 has been a year for us to "pay it forward" in so many ways.
The investment that others have made in us over the past few years is now bearing fruit in our lives and in the lives of others. Much like I've learned to love giving Christmas gifts more than receiving as I've grown older, this year, Tricia and I have been able to focus less on our own needs and more on the needs of others, giving more of our time, energy, resources and lives to people who could use an extra blessing or two.
I've told you before that I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God never wastes a hurt...He always has plans to use the struggles and dark days in my life to eventually help others who are experiencing similar situations. I also believe that He asks us to never wastes our blessings either by using them for selfish gain and prideful recognition. Everything I have and all that I am is only because of Who He is and what He has given to me...to keep these blessing to ourselves would simply be to waste them.
So, thank you, our friends and family and blog readers, for blessing our lives and giving us the opportunity to return the favor!
There is no way to know what 2010 will bring. We certainly pray that it will be another "easy" year for our family. But, whether it's another season of good health or a year of stress, our only desire is to use what He gives us all to bring glory to Him and blessing to others.