A New Beginning and a Look Back

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..."  - James 1:17
How sweet it is to have new little fingers and toes in the family.  Last weekend, I got to go to NYC to meet my sister & brother-in-law's (blaw's) new baby...my first niece.  I worked to butter up my husband the week before with some yummy meals, Crispy Oven Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach, some Shrimp & Corn Chowder, and a Sausage & Cheese Grits Casserole for him to enjoy with the kids for breakfast while I was away.

I mean, I know that I am biased, but Baby C is just precious.  Having three children of my own, I thought that I'd know what being an aunt would feel like. And, while the feelings are similar, the experience is completely different.  I'm fairly certain (and my husband is 100% certain) that our little family is complete, so these newborn snuggles were all the more special...plus it's my sister's first baby!!!  What could be more amazing???  I was making a deliberate effort to breathe in every moment of being with that little angel.  I loved getting to hold baby C, relax during the quiet moments while she slept in my arms (and watch 2 movies on a Saturday!,) and just enjoy the slowness of life that comes from having a new baby at home.  I didn't change one diaper, I didn't feed her one time, and she doesn't really cry, so there honestly wasn't much in the way of rocking her to sleep...I'm telling you, this aunt gig is amazing!!  I did attempt to help her parents out with cooking...they are annoyingly self sufficient (I say that in the most loving way possible, Star & Blaw; I was a basketcase and a nightmare with my newborns, and it's just unfathomable to me that they are so calm and so good at this new parent business!!) so it took all the convincing I had to get them to let me grocery shop and cook dinners for them during my short stay.  I made Chipotle Beef Tostadas one night (a hit with all of us but not so much with the baby...whoops!) and my sister's favorite, Macaroni & Cheese with Marinated Chicken Breasts, using the marinade that I usually use for Marinated Pork Tenderloin, and asparagus the next.  It was awesome to see my sis and blaw in their new roles as parents...all of the nervousness and questions that I had being a first time mom came flooding back, and I just had to grin.  Oh, how I wish I could go back and convince myself to just slow down and enjoy the ride rather than worrying about the baby, about my social life, about what to do about work, about getting my body back, about missing out.  Isn't that how it is with most life changing events, though?  Hindsight is always 20/20.

Looking back always offers a more big picture view than the tunnel vision you experience when going through tough times or just making a change.  I couldn't understand at the time why my sweet husband took 7 years to propose, (okay, we met when we were 18, so it really wasn't that much of a stretch) but looking back I see that he always had a plan and that our relationship and marriage is stronger because of it.  I didn't want to move from Charleston to Nashville, leave all of my friends, leave the beach, start a new job, move further away from my family, but looking back, I never would've met some of the most important people in my life nor would I have "grown up" in my marriage and in my role as a mama in quite the same way.  And even worse was moving to Scottsdale (I know that you are all probably rolling your eyes at me...Charleston, Nashville, Scottsdale...rough life!) not knowing a soul, having a 10 month old and a 2 year old, knowing that my husband would be away more than he'd be at home, moving literally across the country from my entire support system...but if we hadn't have done that, I can assure you that our little family's foundation would not be nearly as strong as it is today, my faith would not have been renewed and challenged, and I wouldn't have met and been blessed by amazing friends, especially during hard moments there.  The Lord was working hard in my life during those two years to get me where I am today.  Our move back east came with tears and also with excitement...a new baby on the way, a new job on the horizon, friends that we knew in Winston already, and a drive that was doable for visiting our families on the weekends.  It has all come full circle for us...we met here in Winston at Wake and now we're here making a life for ourselves and our family right back in the same spot.  Had you asked my 18 year old self where I saw myself in 15 (okay 17) years, I would have never guessed that I'd end up right where I was, but there's a reason for everything, and I thank the dear Lord everyday that He has a plan for my life that I could/can never even dream for myself.

All of that to say that when you find yourself in the midst of something wonderful, something new, something scary, something hard, something painful, something that requires more of you than you think you can handle, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are strong and that you'll make it through and look back one day with fresh eyes.  Through it all, remember this: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" - Jeremiah 29:11

Happy Cooking!

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