Today is my last day to be a 20-something. Tomorrow I will join the ranks with all of you who are already "old"! In just a couple hours, my best friend will be coming home to take me out on a date to celebrate my birthday. But before that, I wanted to reflect a little on all that has taken place in my life this past year. Here are my Top 29 Memories from my 29th Year:
1- Surprising Andy with a skydiving adventure for his 30th birthday. Skydiving was one of the most fun and thrilling things I've ever done! (Besides marrying Andy Wood, of course!)
2- I realized this week that 4 of my "nearest and dearest" (Andy, Filipe, Mandy & Kendall) were all there to celebrate my 20th birthday ten years ago at Charleston Southern University and they were here to celebrate my 30th with me this week. Friendships like that don't come along everyday and I thank God for blessing me with these long term, go-the-distance type friends. I pray we'll be celebrating birthdays together for many decades to come.
3- Cutting down our first live Christmas tree as a family...a new family tradition. Experiencing Christmas with Sammy for the first time.
4- My parents visit in December for an early Christmas last year. Strolling through "Christmas in the Park" in downtown San Jose together. Watching Sammy follow Caedmon's lead in how much he should adore these Grandparents of his.
5- South Bay's Christmas Eve service- the Snuggie video and the "Come Home" segment were my favorite parts.
6- Watching our various family members meet Sammy for the first time
7- Sledding and building a snowman in Michigan with Andy's family. This was Sammy's first time to see snow!
8- Caedmon saved his money for months to buy a Pillow Pet- first "big" purchase with his own money. I was so proud of him as we went to the mall that day to pick it out. I felt like it was great lesson in delayed gratification.
9- Valentine festivities- I'm not sure what came over me, but I got really into Valentine's Day this past year and had a lot of fun doing it...I guess it's never a bad idea to celebrate the people we love so much!
10- Andy surprised me by sending me to the CatWest conference in SoCal with a bunch of folks from South Bay while he stayed home with the boys. It was such a fun trip and a refreshing conference.
11- Most days Caedmon wears at least one costume and typically multiple. People have realized that he has a huge imagination and loves to dress up, so we have been the recipients of many-a-costume gifts. I think it's adorable.
12- Watching Andy's leadership/influence continue to grow and expand. He hosted a "Church Planters' Think Tank" and a coaching network this year and has had a great response to both. He has SO MUCH wisdom to share when it comes to starting a church and I'm so proud of him for being diligent to invest that knowledge into others for further Kingdom impact.
13- Having Andy's brother, Dalton, visit us for his spring break
14- Being blown away by South Bay's Easter services this year with over 1000 people in attendance.
15- Watching Caedmon learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He worked so hard for so long at this. The day he finally got it was a huge celebration!
16- Celebrating my parents 40th anniversary with a week of family vacation at the beach in South Carolina. It was such a meaningful time together as a family and with the physical distance that separates us, we never take those times for granted.
17- Finding out that my brother and sister-in-law are expected their first long awaited baby. And it's a GIRL...first in our family! You should have seen my reaction when they announced it. I couldn't stop jumping up and down and squealing and Andy couldn't stop laughing at me.
18- Two day getaway to Half Moon Bay to celebrate our 8th anniversary. This year I feel like our marriage has gone to a whole new level. It is such a JOY to be married to my very best friend and the person I would rather spend time with than any other person in the world. I cherish these occasions when we're able to get some time alone together.
19- Speaking at South Bay on Mother's Day- I shared about some gut-wrenching lessons in motherhood I've been learning over the last year...this has been the year of extreme motherhood for me, taking me to limits I never knew before.
20- Developing South Bay's first international partnership with a church in Ethiopia through Compassion International. I have a HUGE heart for international missions and I am SO excited that South Bay is going to be involved with such an amazing church and group of leaders in Ethiopia. When Andy boarded that plane to Ethiopia, my heart was aching to be with him and I can hardly wait until the boys are old enough for us to go there together!
21- Preparing gift to send to our Compassion child, Yohannis. While Andy was in Ethiopia, he had the awesome privilege of getting to meet him and his mother. Caedmon, Sammy, & I had prepared special gifts and pictures for Andy to give them. Caedmon included a few of his own toy cars in the package.
22- Watching a dozen godly pastors/church planters lay hands on Caedmon to pray prayers of blessing on his life the day of Caedmon's preschool graduation. I don't know what God has in store for that child, but I believe with all my heart that it is something amazing. In moments like this one, it is so real and tangible to me.
23- Having Kennedy live with us for 3 weeks in July. The boys felt like they had a big sister and miss her dearly. She was such a joy to have around!
24- Experiencing Kid's Games first hand...I was surprised by how much fun I had while leading a small group of girls for that week. Caedmon and Sammy had a blast, too! GO RED CUBS!
25- Celebrating our first "Gotcha Day" as a family. This was the very special one year mark of when Sammy joined our family. SO MUCH has happened this year and it is amazing to me to think back on how far we've come. I can barely remember life before Sammy. He is such a valuable and precious part of the Wood family.
26- One thing that really rocked my world this year was getting to catch up with some old friends from Charleston, Kelley & Erik Shamblin, while they were out here on vacation, followed by their discovery the next day that their 8 year old son, Luke, has leukemia. I pray for Luke every single day at 10 AM...my cell phone alarm is set to remind me.
27- Hiking in Lake Tahoe with Andy's family. So, so beautiful. 4 year old Caedmon whined the whole way about hating hiking and Andy ended up carrying him for most of the hike. 2 year old Sammy, on the other hand, insisted "I do it! I do it!" and walked the entire 2 miles almost completely unassisted!
28- Putting so much love and energy into Caedmon's 5 year old Star Wars birthday party.
29- If I had to only pick one theme for this past year of my life, it would have to do something with being stretched as a mom. God has grown me, strengthened my character, revealed sin in my heart that I never knew was there, and taught me how to depend on Him every single minute for strength, wisdom, peace, and hope. I love my two boys with all of my heart and I know that God is going to use their lives in awesome ways to advance His kingdom. I try to maintain that mile-high view of mothering, but this year has been lived in the trenches. This growth process has been a painful one for me, sometimes requiring more than I feel like I'm capable of giving. But God is so faithful. These trials have not only drawn me closer to Jesus, but has created such a bond of teamwork between Andy and me. I appreciate him SO MUCH as an incredible dad to our boys. His strength, perspective, and support has given me the courage to keep investing my heart and soul into being the very best mom that I can be.
So long, 20's! 30's, here I come!!!