This has been the year of firsts more than any other in our life together. It's been a year of hopes fulfilled, stretching, utter joy, wild re-imagining, and expectancy. 2011 was a year to remember and impossible to forget!
Winter [January-March]: Our year began boarding a plane on January 7, Ethiopia's Christmas, to bring home Judah and Addise. Dreams fulfilled. Promises realized. Joy complete. Our first international trip as a family of four. We were finally a family.
I experienced my first [and apparently not last!] maternity leave through the generosity of our church. We were so radically blessed with meals, groceries, errands, and presence in those 10 weeks. Maternity leave was such a gift to begin the attachment process with J&A. Maternity leave also confirmed my divine calling to ministry and deepened my love for our people at Newsong Church.
Only a few weeks into parenthood Brian's birthday all but slipped by as we barely acknowledged his 32nd birthday amidst poopy diapers, hour-long meals, night terrors and exhaustion. Sorry, baby.
We experienced lots of firsts for Addise: her first birthday, tooth which has multiplied into 14 teeth to date, first steps turned into frantic running, one word has since become a non-stop babble, the first tantrum which has shown us her strong personality that she's not afraid to display.
Though the big brother, we also experienced lots and lots of Judah's firsts: his first English words in those early days which began a snowball of learning, his first mouthful of teeth after coming home with only a dozen, his first birthday with us, his first night of sleep without terror, his first spoken prayer, his first chosen kisses and snuggles, his first haircut at home.
In the moment of all those firsts we celebrated our kids' growth and process, and silently grieved the other "firsts" we had missed in their lives. Yet, we are radically grateful that we love J&A because he first loved us.
Our kids' first meeting of our extended family as my mom, dad, brother, and Granny came in those early days to help our desperate little family and meet the newest Diaz's. I could not have been more grateful.
I experienced my first trip away from our kids as I traveled to Dallas for a 30 hour speaking gig. It re-instilled my love for students and the mission God's set me on, yet re-imagined it as mother.
Spring [April-June]: There was our first family photo shoot in April at my sacred Montage Beach. For a while every time we hopped in the car Judah said, "mommy, ocean?"
Our first family vacation at my family's gorgeous condo on Florida's beach.
Spring also marked a role change at Newsong and I wondered why the heck God would increase my responsibility in the midst of my greatest life change. Utter dependence. I'm finding it's the only way to live.
I went momentarily crazy and took both kids back to the Midwest for several days - ALONE!!! - to celebrate my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary and introduce them to the newest grandkids. Whole crying at DFW with 2 toddlers-in-tow and searching for Judah's missing shoe, I wondered if I'd lost my mind only 6 months into parenting.
Summer [July-August]: Brian got his first trip away from the madness. He got to experience ComiCon with friends as I experienced shock-and-awe of 3 days alone with our kids.
August 5th Brian and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with a 24-hour getaway, courtesy of my mom. We had 4 meals in exclusive adult conversation and were allowed to simply reconnect as friends, partners, and lovers, not just as co-parents. And I celebrated my 32nd birthday.
Summer and Fall I've found myself in quite challenging leadership circumstances, navigating change and transition at a pace only the Spirit can keep up with. There are many firsts for me in these deep waters, including a leadership loneliness that demands intimacy with Jesus and my husband above all else.
Fall [September-November]: In spite of the attachment issues, hundreds of dollars on diapers, and sleep deprived months, this month held our most surprising first this year: a positive pregnancy test. Having never seen a positive home pregnancy test, this news sent us into speechless terror and the beginnings of celebration at another new life.
Our first Thanksgiving as a family, including our kids' first taste of turkey. They were not impressed. I also purchased my first pair of maternity pants.
Advent and Beyond: Now, this is our first Christmas together a family of 4+1. Advent looks a bit different as we expectantly await "God with us". Presents and decorations carried a different tenor as we anticipated chubby black hands tearing wrapping paper. Traveling back to see our families have been especially more meaningful, especially as Brian's side of the family met J&A. Introducing Judah to the wonder of Santa Claus ["ho ho ho!"] and telling him the real Christmas story beckons for my childlike wonder. Putting on snowsuits so little Ethiopians can play in a few inches of snow was a Christmas highlight. Holding my belly and imagining what next Christmas will look like. Celebrating 11 years ago when the man of my dreams proposed to me this month. Expectant of God how will meet all our felt and unspoken needs in our growing family. These are the ways we are holding the Christ-child this year. We are grateful for the God who knows, has come close, and is with us in the midst of everything.
Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Year from our Family of 4+1.