Yes, it's cliche to write about newness at the beginning of a New Year. I don't care. Lately I have been surrounded by lots of new things, and I'm also anticipating other new things that will (Lord willing) take place during 2009. Some of the new things that have happened lately are material in nature .... Josh and I have lived for nearly a month at a new residence (the aforementioned lake house, not our own), bought a new washer & dryer (front loaders off of Craigslist - I never thought I'd be excited about stuff like this, but they are AWESOME), purchased a set of dining room chairs, and last night we spent the night in our new bed on brand new mattresses for the first time! Since we have lived in other people's furnished homes for the two and a half years that we have been married, we've never needed to buy furniture or major appliances. Now that we are finally getting close (we think) to purchasing our own home, we jumped on some great after-Christmas sales and have started gathering furniture for our future residence. It is SO exciting. I guess I have just gotten so used to using whatever furniture the owners of the homes we've lived in have left for us, that it never occurred to me how great it would be to pick my own furniture. I love it!
As exciting as furniture and temporary lake homes are, the most wonderful type of newness that we've been surrounded by lately has been new life. We are officially WELL into the friends-having-babies stage of life, and have been for a while, but just recently the babies have started coming a lot more frequently. Hazel made her debut a few months ago, then came sweet little Mae, John and Emily were blessed with Owen, a few days ago our friends Abel & Sarah welcomed twin sons, Joshua & Steven into the world, and I just got a text about an hour ago letting me know that John & Carol's little Lily is finally here! In addition to births, one of my dearest friends recently announced that she is pregnant, and I've also had the chance in the last week to meet some long-distance friends' little ones. Josh and I spent New Year's day hanging out with Jason & Sarah and their adorable daughter, Hiba, who we had not yet met due to the fact that they live in Palestine; and earlier this week I was able to catch up with Autum, one of my oldest friends, who now lives in Colorado and meet her second son, Owen.
Josh and I have welcomed our own new family member, as well. His name is Jack, and he is a sweet 12 week old golden retriever. I'll try to post some pictures of him soon. Josh and I have been wanting a dog since we got married, but we weren't allowed to have pets at our previous residence. Our new house-sitting gig is a little more relaxed, so Josh surprised me with Jack the week we moved in. All of this joyful newness that has been running from 2008 into 2009 has caused me to reflect on the year that spanned October 2006 - October 2007. Within those 12 months I attended 5 funerals ... one was for a baby, two were for my grandmothers, and two were for a mother and son who died 2 months apart from one another. It was a tough year. Certainly my experience was much gentler and less difficult than many others that year, but it felt like I couldn't escape thinking about death all of the time. Now that I am 15 months past the last of those funerals and life seems to be exploding into this world so quickly, it is much easier to dwell on hope and joy. It is such a good reminder that night is always followed by morning, and the winter by spring
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away - Blessed be the Name of the Lord.