The ticks of the clock will soon usher in a brand new year and I have to admit that I am overjoyed to see 2012! 2011 was not the easiest of years for me and I am beginning this January 1st with a hope that this new year will be bright with a freshness that comes from living with purpose and direction and being intentional in as much of my life as possible. Last year brought so many new challenges most of which were in the form of a 25 lb little China boy. There were many old challenges that intensified throughout the year while managing the life of 4 kiddos, a husband, a house, 2 cars and a job proved to be beyond overwhelming. Most of my days began at 4:00 am and didn't end until 10:00 with me falling in bed exhausted, asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I spent 3 of my days making sure that 4 kids and myself were dressed, fed and ready for school, carpool at two schools, working a full day, pick up at school, arriving home to dinner prep, homework, laundry, baths and bedtime. The other 2 days of the week were much of the same minus work and add in a Joshua pre-school drop off, errands and a slew of doctors appts. Weekends were spent scrambling to get laundry washed, folded and put away, our house cleaned, bills paid and anything else I could squeeze into 2 free days. Combine all this with 3 surgeries for Joshua, managing life with a moody and rather explosive teenager who has Diabetes and trying to make sure that the girls don't feel neglected. It has been exhausting, I find my tank empty and very eager to find ways in this new year to keep the tank from running on fumes.
During this much needed break from the normal chaos of our everyday life I have tried to be more reflective in my thoughts realizing that two of the biggest things that I need to focus on during this new year is taking care of me as well as being a more proactive wife and mom. I think that as mom's we have a natural tendency to live a martyrs life or at least I know I do. We completely sacrifice ourselves to everything surrounding us and end up living in a survival mode. When we are simply surviving we can be nothing more than reactive in what we do. That has been me in a nutshell....treading water trying to stay afloat and merely reacting to anything that comes my way.
I am determined to seize this new year and attempt to do things differently. As I have thought about our year my thoughts have turned so often to someone who became very significant in my life. She entered my life like a fresh breeze bringing a sweet joy and calmness to my chaos. This adorable woman entered my life as our social worker and left us as a treasured friend.
Laurel Constantinides would softly enter our home like a ray of sunshine with the warmest hugs I have ever experienced. I couldn't wait for her visits and each time she came to our home we would settle in with a warm cup of Kahlua flavored coffee and chat about life. Sometimes our conversations would be very practical but most of the time they were deeply philosophical. Not in a very academic way but in a philosophical mommy way. During her last visit in July we ventured into one of the most inspiring chats I think I have every had with another woman. Little did know at the time that this would be the last time I saw Laurel for it was just a few days after our visit that Laurel and her three beautiful adopted daughters died in a tragic accident.
Laurel had a way about her that made you feel safe, she seemed to have the ability to look deep into your heart and see the reality of your emotions. Maybe it was her experience or her profession but I just think it was who she was. During our last visit sensing the extreme fatigue and discouragement I was feeling in managing my life while maintaining a healthy sense of who I was outside of being a wife and a mommy, she shared with me some profound thoughts. Things I wish I had wrote down to savor forever but only can rely on my memory....
She said, "Sweet Nichole,
You have to be BRAVE
Brave to take care of you.
Brave to express the emotions of your heart whether they are good or bad.
Brave to accept you have limits and ask for help when you need it.
Brave to love without expectation
Brave to accept the realities of life with hope and faith that they can change AND
Brave to believe that every day is a BRAND NEW DAY!"
I paraphrased and summarized what she spoke into me that day but hold these Laurel Inspirations close to my heart as I embark on this new year.
As I strive to be brave I am reminded of the words of Max Lucado in his Cure for the Common Life,
"God endows us with gifts so we can make him known. We exist to exhibit God, to display his glory. We serve as canvases for his brush stroke, papers for his pen, soil for his seeds, glimpes of his image. I pray that during this year I can "Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in me" (2 Tim. 1:6) I hope you can too.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!